Nature Alert campaign launched


100 voluntary organisations across Britain have joined together to call for the protection of Europe's natural environment, as protective legislation comes under threat.

The EU's Birds and Habitats Directives exist to protect the most important wildlife species and habitats in Britain and Europe, and have protected some of our best loved and most iconic landscapes for more than 30 years. Now these laws are under review and risk being weakened, endangering habitats from the Scottish Flow County peatlands to the Caledonian pine forests of the Cairngorms, and species large and small, from Basking Shark and Harbour Porpoise, to Capercaillie and Corncrake.

Last week, the Joint Links Group — representing 100 voluntary organisations across the UK — published a position statement, warning that the European Commission's REFIT 'Fitness Check' of the Birds and Habitats Directives is the single biggest threat to British and European nature and biodiversity in a generation.

Joint Links raises concerns that the Directives are potentially being weakened by those who mistakenly regard them as a block to business and economic growth. In the current political context, any revision of the Directives would expose them to prolonged uncertainty and leave the long-term future of Europe's biodiversity vulnerable to short-term political priorities.

Convener of Scottish Environment LINK's Wildlife Forum, Deborah Long, said: "Scottish environmental NGOs are delighted to join with our colleagues from across the UK to sign this statement. Not only should our amazing wildlife be protected for itself, but it is also hugely economically important in attracting visitors to Scotland and in marketing Scottish produce. Those who see protecting nature as somehow getting in the way of business are often just wrong."

The Joint Links group's response to the EC consultation sets out a huge volume of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of the Directives in protecting nature, providing huge benefits for people and providing a stable framework for responsible businesses.

On 30 April the European Commission launched its public consultation on the Directives. Voluntary organisations have also launched the 'Nature Alert' electronic tool, enabling the public to have their say in one easy click — visit either www.naturealert.eu or www.birdlife.org/naturealert. The 'Nature Alert' tool was developed by a coalition of Europe-wide voluntary organisations (BirdLife Europe; European Environmental Bureau; Friends of the Earth Europe; and WWF Europe), and is being made available to citizens of 28 European countries and has been translated into 20 languages.

Written by: BirdLife Europe