What is happening with the Nature Directives?

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In the coming weeks, the European Commission is expected to publish its conclusion on the ‘fitness check’ of the Nature Directives and hold the annual Green Week. For this reason on 16 May 2016 BirdLife Europe, the BirdLife International EU partners and citizens across the EU took to social media to remind Commissioner Vella and his 27 other Commissioner colleagues, that EU citizens are still behind the Nature Directives, and are anxious to see action, and have them fully implemented in order to benefit the environment and local communities.

On 16 May 2016 a massive online mobilization took place, through the Thunderclap platform, where over 11,000 European citizens sent messages on social media to Commissioners Vella and Timmermans reminding them that the Nature Directives are fit for purpose and asking for their full implementation. Since the ‘fitness check’ started, the following has happened to protect the Directives:

  • 520,000 citizens signed to defend the Nature Directives, an unprecedented response to a public consultation by the European Commission
  • the Environment Ministers of 13 EU countries and seven of the European Parliament’s eight political groupings positioned themselves supporting the Nature Directives
  • 592 out of 751 MEPs approved a report prepared by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the EU Parliament, which calls for the maintenance of the Nature Directives
  • 286 SMEs from a variety of sectors across Europe have signed a declaration for the protection of the Nature Directives.

A growing number of studies and reports confirm and prove the effectiveness of the Nature Directives. The latest addition to this growing list of evidence is a new paper published in Conservation Letters by scientists at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science (BirdLife in the UK). This paper further supports that the Nature Directives make a significant contribution to the EU’s ability to meet its international biodiversity obligations, and are thus not only ‘fit for purpose’ but a critical way forward for the continent’s future sustainability.

The paper builds on existing evidence supporting the Directives and for the first time reveals how the Nature Directives fully complement and directly contribute towards achieving the EU’s obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).

The impact of the Nature Directives extends beyond just nature conservation: 65% of EU citizens live within 5km of a Natura 2000 site and 98% within 20km. It has been shown that these sites are likely to raise awareness of biodiversity and to deliver ecosystem services to a high proportion of the EU’s population. In addition, in the critical commitments the EU has made to mitigating climate change, new research also confirms that the Nature Directives help by storing carbon.

Problems with implementation, lack of investment and policy integration are hindering realising the objectives and reaping the full benefits of the Nature Directives. Where the legislation is implemented properly, nature flourishes!

A warm thank you to all who continue to support our actions so far and defend the Nature Directives!

You can view a timeline with what has been happening with the Nature Directives since last summer.

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