Benefits of the Birds Directive
Alongside the Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive provides protection at a time when pressures on wildlife sites are rising, with increasing recognition of how undeveloped places contribute to our quality of life.
We applaud those that drafted the Birds Directive for producing legislation that works in the broadest public interest.
Birds contribute hugely to the quality of human life, be it through bird song or just the simple pleasure of seeing a robin at a garden bird table. But the conservation of birds, and the habitats on which they depend, also contributes to our quality of life in more tangible ways:
- Providing natural services: wetlands, for example, absorb water and help prevent damaging floods, estuaries serve as nurseries for commercial fisheries, saltmarsh creation can buffer the effect of damaging waves and so reduce expenditure on hard sea defence works.
- Health benefits: the natural world provides inspiration and relaxation, an antidote to progressively more stressful and sedentary lifestyles.
- Leisure opportunities: for wildlife watching and quiet enjoyment of the countryside.
- Support to local economies: attractive landscapes and important wildlife sites attract visitors and generate much needed employment and income from tourism, habitat management work provides a more direct contribution in provision of goods and services and local employment. Natural landscapes, often protected through the Birds Directive as Special Protection Areas, support ancillary industries such as film-making. In south-west England, environment-related economic activity contributes about 100,000 jobs and some £1.4 billion to the regional economy – around 5-10 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product.
- Education: Special Protection Areas provide an opportunity for children to explore the wonder of nature and wild places. Without such first hand experience, young people will not become environmentally-aware.