Today I walked along the John Muir Walkway to the Musselburgh Lagoons. I had my best ever sighting of a singing whitethroat; had a female wheatear pose in front of me for several minutes (just after I'd wondered to myself why I hadn't yet this year had a decent view of a wheatear!); enjoyed watching a group of male eiders cvourting a couple of females, making a wonderful 'ooh-ooh' noise and periodically throwing their heads back on their necks; watched reed buntings flying around and singing; tried to find skylarks in the sky, but gave up and just listened to their wonderful song; enjoyed the swirling flight of swifts, swallows and house martins. Plus lots of other birds. And this wasn't even an unusually good day for birdwatching here.
The John Muir Walkway and Musselburgh Lagoons are part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area. The SPA is part of Natura 2000 and is the highest level of nature
conservation status in Europe. Try to push forward any development on an
SPA and the wrath of Europe falls on you.So these areas remain protescted for wildlife..
Many people in the UK are unaware of the 1992
Habitats directive and the 1979 Birds directive or Natura 2000,
which is a great shame, it is at one and the same time the most
important legislation protecting sites important for wildlife
conservation in the UK and, arguably, the best thing about the European Union (EU).
Without Natura 2000, our wild places would be more likely to be lost,
yet until recently it has been largely overlooked by everyone outside those working for
conservation bodies or planning. The broadcast media has tended to ignore Natura most of the time.
And now this whole raft of protective legislation is under threat.
Currently, European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by
revising (read weakening) the Directives in the belief that weaker protection
for wildlife would be good for business. In reality, this would be bad for
business, and a disaster for wildlife.
organisations in the UK and across Europe are asking the general public
to demonstrate their support for these vital pieces of legislation. You
can find out more and sign up on the website of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), here.
More about Natura 2000
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of
nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats
Directive. These areas include nature reserves and
privately owned areas. The directives require member States to take
measures designed to maintain or restore certain natural habitats and
wild species at a favourable conservation status. The emphasis is on
ensuring that the areas are managed in an ecologically sustainable
Natura 2000 aims to assure the long-term
survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species
and habitats. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation
(SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive,
and also incorporates Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which
they designate under the 1979 Birds
Directive. SPAs requires Member States to take
sufficient measures (legal minefield) to preserve sufficient diversity
of habitats for all species of wild birds naturally occurring within the
Natura 2000 also fulfils a European Community obligation
under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
An earlier version of this blog post appeared here.
Thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for input into this blogpost!
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.