24/07/2015
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EU citizens step up for nature

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Dartford Warbler is listed in Annex 1 of the Birds Directive due to the destruction of its habitat throughout its range. If the directives are weakened this vulnerable bird will be at risk. Photo by Ben Hall (www.rspb-images.com).
Dartford Warbler is listed in Annex 1 of the Birds Directive due to the destruction of its habitat throughout its range. If the directives are weakened this vulnerable bird will be at risk. Photo by Ben Hall (www.rspb-images.com).

A campaign launched by a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups across Europe has garnered support from almost 500,000 EU inhabitants, the group has announced.

Nature Alert was created by WWF Europe, BirdLife International, the European Environmental Bureau and Friends of the Earth Europe in response to the European Commission’s plans to evaluate whether the existing EU nature laws should be changed. In Britain, 100 environmental organisations came together under the Joint Links umbrella to collect and submit evidence in support of the laws. 

Two directives will be affected, the Birds and the Habitats Directives. These two vital laws protect species and environments across the entire continent. Nature Alert and Joint Links are delighted with the public’s response, which has exceeded all previous consultations on any other European law.

Dr Elaine King, Director at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “Threats to the laws that defend nature across the European Union have been met with a truly staggering response from the public. This shows how much people care about nature and its future. Wildlife groups across Europe have campaigned on the potential threats to nature from reforming these pivotal laws, and Europe’s citizens have heeded the call and responded. The European Commission must listen to what the public has said.”

Chair of the Joint Links’ Habitats and Birds group Kate Jennings, (RSPB), added: “The Birds Directive and its younger sibling, the Habitat’s Directive, have been protecting Europe’s wildlife for more than 30 years. Wherever you travel in Britain or elsewhere in the European Union, from the Flow Country in Scotland to the coastal wetlands of southern Spain or from seabird colonies in Ireland to the last remnant of wildwood in eastern Poland, you’re never far from a site that has been protected as a result of these laws.

“We were appalled at hearing the news that the Nature Directives were under threat of being weakened by those who fear that these laws may be a block on economic growth. The evidence debunks this myth and we’re delighted that hundreds of thousands of European people share our concerns. We now need the European Commission to listen.”

The consultation closes at midnight tonight (24 July). The petition can be signed here – it only takes a few minutes, and the more people sign the stronger will be the call not to undermine or weaken legal protection for our wildlife. 

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Written by: Birdwatch news team