Europe-wide anti-wildlife crime network launched


The RSPB and SEO (BirdLife in Spain) have launched a 'European Network against Environmental Crimes', aiming to ensure that the 2008 EU Directive is complied with.

The new project is expected to significantly advance environmental protection by bolstering the EU Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law, and the project is financially supported by the Criminal Justice Program of the EU and overall by BirdLife Europe.

Environmental crimes are considered to be acts that breach environmental legislation and cause significant harm or risk to the environment and human health, often generating economic losses. Such acts notably include the illegal emission or discharge of substances into air, water or soil, as well as actions that hinder the conservation of species. The BirdLife Partnership will fight these crimes across the board by playing a key role in working actively to expose environmental crimes that harm biodiversity. The network will strengthen the work already undertaken by BirdLife and its partners through encouraging the exchange of information and legal expertise working in this field.

Wounded Honey Buzzard: one of three injured birds of prey reported to BirdLife Malta in the weeks preceding the opening of the 2007 hunting season (photo: BirdLife Malta).

One of the first actions will be a report assessing the effectiveness with which international and national criminal laws are applied in Europe. This will help to identify loopholes and develop recommendations to consequently tighten environmental protection in EU countries. A series of workshops will also be organised on illegal hunting, the poisoning of fauna and habitat destruction, and education on the importance of respecting the environment and the laws that protect it.

Implementation and application of the 2008 EU Directive, which came into force in December 2010, varies widely between member states, creating imbalances and fuelling opportunities for criminals to exploit these differences to their advantage. The project will work hard to reverse this situation, so that the criminal law genuinely protects the environment effectively.

Written by: BirdLife