European nature in peril as 100,000 call on EU to uphold nature laws

20 May 2015

A comprehensive survey of European nature published by scientists today shows wildlife and habitats in peril across Europe. [1] The research comes as the European Commission threatens to weaken vital nature laws, [2] as part of a drive for 'deregulation'. [3]

Since a new campaign to save these nature laws – the Birds and Habitats Directives – started last week, over 100,000 citizens have told the European Commission to protect nature by maintaining and better implementing them. [4]

Commenting, Robbie Blake, Friends of the Earth Europe biodiversity campaigner, said:

"These findings show that Europe's wildlife and natural environment are in a precarious state. Our birds, bees and butterflies are being wrecked by pollution and industrial farming.

"We all have a right to enjoy nature, so the European Commission must abandon plans to weaken vital nature protection laws – especially after 100,000 citizens have already called for them to be reinforced.

"A thriving natural world is crucial for everybody's health and wellbeing, so the EU would be foolish to undermine nature protections in the name of cutting red tape."

Notes

[1] The State of Nature report is a comprehensive assessment of nature in EU member states. It draws on the data and reports submitted by member states on their progress in implementing the Birds and Habitats Directives.

[2] Despite the clear need to increase efforts to protect nature, policymakers from the European Commission are currently reviewing the Birds and Habitats Directives, threatening to weaken them.

[3] The European Commission is carrying out a 'fitness check' of the Birds and Habitats Directives as part of a wider deregulatory agenda under REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme).

Report: The crusade against 'red tape': How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation

The European Commission yesterday announced a new 'Better Regulation' package, which "risk[s] weakening existing standards on food, chemicals and biodiversity", according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

[4] On Tuesday 12 May more than 100 NGOs across Europe launched a campaign to defend the Birds and Habitats directives. So far over 100,000 people have responded to the European Commission consultation, demanding not to weaken them. More information at www.naturealert.eu

The Directives have been proven to be effective when properly implemented, delivering demonstrable benefits for biodiversity as well as significant social and economic benefits.

The State of Nature report concludes that the network of Natura 2000 protected nature sites, established under the Directives, have "had an important positive influence on the conservation status of species and habitat types". But "the full potential of the network has still to be realised" and implementation is far from complete.