Abernethy RSPB reserve. Speyside, Scotland.

What's next for the Nature Directives?

The EU laws that protect our nature were under threat. Here's the next part of the story.

What happened

In 2015, the world’s most effective cross-border nature protection laws came under threat. You helped us fight back to defend the laws that protect our nature.

We're fortunate that in the UK, we have fantastic places for wildlife, from the Isles of Scilly to Abernethy, from Lough Neagh and Lake Vyrnwy to the Norfolk Broads. These homes for nature, and their wildlife, are protected thanks to vital legislation: the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, collectively known as the Nature Directives.

They are the key bedrock for nature conservation across Europe, providing the highest levels of protection available for habitats and species. They protect our most important places, from managing sites and protecting them from development, to protecting species from human persecution.

The important thing is about the Nature Directives is that, when implemented properly, they work: numerous studies can attest to their effectiveness. 

In a political climate hostile to regulation, however, these laws came under attack. A "regulatory fitness check" of the Nature Directives, to ensure they were still fit for purpose, provided detractors with a perfect opportunity to try to undo decades of conservation progress.

Video: Help us defend nature

European laws that protect our wildlife came under threat.

Imagine an otter on a quiet riverbed, the warm sun rising through dew-damp grass. Imagine wandering through a wild woodland, soft light filtering through foliage. Imagine a barn owl soaring beside the setting sun, land below like emerald waves. Now imagine these places in peril. The laws that protect them, threatened. Imagine a future where nature has no home. A future where all this – and more – could be gone... in the blink of an eye. Use your voice to defend nature. Act now.

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What we did

The RSPB and BirdLife International were quick to act. In the UK, we led over 100 other environmental groups to pull together a single response: the laws work for people, wildlife and business. Partners across the EU did the same. Then we asked for your help.

We created a joint campaign with hundreds of other environmental groups across Europe, and from May to July 2015 over 520,000 people spoke up against weakening the Nature Directives. Over 100,000 responses came from the UK, and more than 65,000 were from RSPB supporters.

The response was over three times the previous record response to an EU consultation, and the strength of your voices became a key point in every subsequent discussion about the laws.

Nature Directives