People power wins huge victory in fight for nature protection

Nature cropped

​Campaign saw half a million people fight to save vital EU laws

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9th December 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Environmental charities have won a major campaigning victory to preserve crucial pan-European nature laws.

There had been dismay when it looked like the European Union’s (EU) Nature Directives could be scrapped.

They give habitats and species critical levels of protection, and have been credited with helping save some of Scotland’s best loved and most iconic landscapes, from the Flow Country peatlands to the Caledonian pine forests of the Cairngorms.

The laws allow for the formation of a Europe-wide network of protected wildlife sites – the Natura Network.

Wildlife does not recognise borders, and this is of huge significance for species and habitats right across the continent

However, they had come under review, with business interests keen to see them dismantled.

Charities and environmental groups across the continent rallied, launching the Defend Nature campaign.

This saw more than 550,000 people engaging with the EU’s consultation on the directives.

Their efforts paid off – and the directives will remain in place.

Paul Walton, of Scottish Environment Link, hailed this as a major victory.

He said: “Wildlife does not recognise borders, and this news is of huge significance for species and habitats right across the continent.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to maintain European standards of environmental protection in Scotland, whatever outcomes emerge from the EU referendum results.

“A key test will be maintaining the integrity and international significance of Scotland’s Natura network sites, and delivering favourable conservation status for our threatened species. It is increasingly clear that the natural environment is a key factor in the health and wellbeing of the people”.

“The European Commission has recognised that the Nature Directives remain relevant and fit for purpose, but their implementation needs to be improved. To this end, the commission will develop an action plan with local authorities to assess implementation challenges and help member states take the necessary corrective action.”