Common Scoter Melanitta nigra, female swimming with ducklings, Forsinard Flows RSPB reserve, Sutherland, Scotland

Future development of the Birds Directive

While the Directive has contributed much to UK wildlife conservation, implementation of the Directive is far from complete.

Future developments

  • The RSPB considers the terrestrial network of Special Protection Areas incomplete.
    Several key species remain under-represented within the network. There are still important discrepancies between the area designated as Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive and that identified by BirdLife as Important Bird Areas, which we believe are worthy of statutory protection as SPAs given their internationally important interest for birds. Completion of the network is especially important in Scotland. 

  • Implementation of the Birds Directive in the marine environment has been lamentable.
    The coverage of SPAs at sea remains inadequate for many rare and migratory birds species. The lack of certainty about the location of internationally important sites for birds at sea is now posing a major problem for conservationists and developers alike because it is difficult to guide marine development away from sensitive areas.
  • Much of the current SPA network is not in favourable condition.
    A mixture of policy reform, regulatory improvements and more resources for positive land management agreements with owners and occupiers are required to achieve favourable condition.

  • Some parts of the Directive are still poorly implemented in the UK.
    For example, while much effort has been put into the designation of SPAs under Article 4, the wider habitat conservation requirements of Article 3 have not been properly implemented. Measures to address site deterioration are also poorly developed. 
Red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus, adult male in early morning sun. Cairngorm. Scotland.