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Forty Years of the EU’s Birds Directive

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Forty Years of the EU’s Birds Directive
In April, there was a notable anniversary for all nature conservationists. It was 40 years since the European Union’s Birds’ Directive, the first environmental legislation from the EU and still a cornerstone of nature conservation.
More formally this is the ‘Council Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds.’ It is best known for setting up a network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs, as we call them in the UK). It also gives obligations to protect and conserve habitats for 194 species and subspecies, listed under Annex 1: bitterns, pelicans, terns and many birds of prey are just a few of these; passerines are often those with restricted distribution, such as semi-collared flycatcher and trocaz pigeon.
The agreement of the ‘Birds Directive’ in April 1979 coincides with my own career in nature conservation. I arrived at the RSPB’s HQ in the second half of 1978. The UK’s nature legislation had to be improved to implement the Birds Dire…