Category Archives: Protection of Nature and Biodiversity

Increased urbanisation and the spread of human infrastructures, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution in all its forms, the introduction of exotic species into our ecosystems – these factors are all highly damaging for biodiversity. As a result, 42% of mammals, 15% of birds and 52% of freshwater fish across Europe are under threat. In addition, nearly 1000 plant species are at serious risk or on the verge of disappearing completely. In order to safeguard biodiversity and combat the extinction of animal and plant species, the European Union has set up a vast network of protected sites (the Natura 2000 network) and made the protection of biodiversity one of the key objectives of the Sixth Environment Action Programme.

Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 to the Council and the European Parliament: Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources (Volume II) [COM(2001) 162 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication is the second volume of the Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 on Biodiversity Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation. This volume is specifically dedicated to the conservation of natural resources.

Introduction

In recent decades, the rate of decline and even disappearance of species and related habitats, ecosystems and genes (i.e. biodiversity) has increased throughout the world. This loss of biodiversity is deplorable in itself and has adverse effects on economic development since it is the basis for the food, fibres, drink, medicines, industrial processes, agriculture and fisheries activities we rely on for our survival.

In February 1998, the Commission adopted a communication on a Community strategy for biodiversity. This strategy already provided for special action plans for the areas of activity concerned to be set up and implemented. This communication sets out the Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation.

The Community Biodiversity Strategy and the Action Plans are covered by the European Union commitment to achieve sustainable development and integrate environmental concerns into other sectoral policies and other policy areas.

Indicators will be used for the long-term monitoring and benchmarking of Action Plan implementation. These indicators, which still have to be specified by the Commission with the help of the Member States, scientists and organisations concerned, will be measured locally and results compared.

The European Community clearing house mechanism (EC CHM) is an invaluable resource for exchanging information on biodiversity. It should be supported and developed further.

The Commission is currently identifying biodiversity conservation research needs so as to include them in the Sixth European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

The Commission plans to set up a Committee of Experts on Biodiversity which would disseminate information and strive to ensure that European and national measures are complementary. Representatives of NGOs, industry, associations and any other interested parties would be invited to attend committee meetings as observers.

The natural resources volume of the communication stresses the following objectives: conservation of wild fauna and flora, preventing biodiversity loss related to the management of water, soil, forests and wetlands, preventing biodiversity loss throughout EU territory and conserving biodiversity worldwide. These objectives are explained in detail below.

The conservation of wild fauna and flora

The communication sets three main priorities to meet the objective of maintaining or improving the conservation status of natural habitats and wild animal and plant species: application of the Habitats and Birds Directives, establishment of networks such as Natura 2000 and financial and technical support for them, and formulating special action plans for threatened and huntable species.

The Communication highlights the objective of transposing the Habitats and Birds Directives properly into national legislation by 2002. It envisages a monitoring system with guidelines addressed to States and, moreover, the option of taking legal action against them. The annexes to both Directives will have to be amended in order to protect and take account of biodiversity in European Union candidate countries.

The communication sets the objective of adopting the list of Natura 2000 sites for all biogeographical regions, including forested areas, by the end of 2002. Guidelines will be drawn up for the administration of the network. The Commission will favour funding Natura 2000 through LIFE-Nature projects. The Commission points out the need for Community programmes to make an explicit commitment to protect the Natura 2000 network.

The Commission will finalise the Action Plans for the most threatened bird species and huntable species. Under international conventions, it will also collaborate in framing special action plans for threatened species other than birds.

Preventing biodiversity loss related to the management of water, soil, forests and wetlands

The communication proposes a three-pronged approach to reverse the current trends of biodiversity loss related to management of water, soil, forests and wetlands: using the Water Framework Directive, enhancing the ecological function of land cover and protecting wetlands.

The Water Framework Directive will be used as a tool for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. For every river basin, analyses will be carried out of water quality and quantity versus demand, and also water needs for irrigation, energy generation, drinking water consumption and industrial and ecological uses.

An information base will be set up and a public awareness campaign on the need for soil protection will be launched in order to enhance the ecological function of land cover to combat erosion. It will become mandatory to check the quality of the end-products of sewage sludge and biodegradable waste treatment. A communication will be published on the proper use of pesticides. Forest biological diversity will be included in rural development plans.

The Commission will protect biodiversity in wetlands through initiatives under Natura 2000, the Water Framework Directive and the Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

Reversing biodiversity loss across the whole territory

The communication highlights the following priority actions to develop instruments to improve the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on territory located outside protected areas: taking account of biodiversity in policies affecting soil such as agricultural policy, fisheries, aquaculture, Structural Funds and the urban environment, and incorporating biodiversity in cross-sectoral environmental measures.

In order to integrate biodiversity into cross-sectoral environmental measures, the objectives and actions detailed in the communication are based on the precautionary principle, environmental liability, environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment, public participation and access to information, eco-labelling, eco-auditing and the strategy for EU chemicals policy.

The actions on genetic resources outlined in the communication address alien invasive species, GMOs, zoos and botanical gardens.

Conserving biodiversity worldwide

The communication sets forth objectives and actions for the conservation of biodiversity worldwide targeted at applying the EC CITES Regulation, improving coordination within international forums in the fields of climate change, ozone layer depletion and desertification, and identifying interactions between the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international agreements in order to optimise the opportunities for synergy.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 21 December 2005: Thematic Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources [– Not published in the Official Journal].
This strategy creates a framework for action to reduce the burden on the environment from the production and consumption of natural resources without penalising economic development. Concerns about resources will be addressed in all relevant policies and specific measures will be put into effect, notably the setting up of a centre for data and indicators, a European forum and an international expert group.

Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries

Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries

1) Objective

Establishing an action plan to improve or maintain biodiversity status and preventing biodiversity loss due to fisheries and aquaculture activities.

2) Community Measure

Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 to the Council and the European Parliament: Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries (Volume IV).

3) Contents

This communication is the fourth volume of the Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 on Biodiversity Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation. This volume is specifically dedicated to fisheries.

Introduction

In recent decades, the rate of decline and even disappearance of species and related habitats, ecosystems and genes (i.e. biodiversity) has increased throughout the world. This loss of biodiversity is deplorable in itself and has adverse effects on economic development since it is the basis for the food, fibres, drink, medicines, industrial processes, agriculture and fisheries activities we rely on for our survival.

In February 1998, the Commission adopted a communication on a Community Biodiversity Strategy. This strategy already provided for special action plans for the areas of activity concerned to be set up and implemented. This communication sets out the Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation.

The Community Biodiversity Strategy and the Action Plans are covered by the European Union commitment to achieve sustainable development and integrate environmental concerns into other sectoral policies and other policy areas.

Indicators will be used for the long-term monitoring and benchmarking of Action Plan implementation. These indicators, which still have to be specified by the Commission with the help of the Member States, scientists and organisations concerned, will be measured locally and results compared.

The European Community clearing house mechanism (EC CHM) is an invaluable resource for exchanging information on biodiversity which should be supported and developed further.

The Commission is currently identifying biodiversity conservation research needs so as to include them in the Sixth European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

The Commission plans to set up a Committee of Experts on Biodiversity which would disseminate information and strive to ensure that European and national measures were complementary. Representatives of NGOs, industry, associations and any other interested parties would be invited to attend committee meetings as observers.

Although the actual impact of fisheries on biodiversity has not been fully identified, the Commission Communication of 14 July 1999 on Fisheries Management and Nature Conservation in the Marine Environment [COM (1999) 363] highlights the interactions between fishing and the environment and puts forward a strategic European framework for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and biodiversity.

Priorities

The plan identified the following priorities to maintain or restore biodiversity threatened by fishing or aquaculture activities:

  • promoting the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks;
  • promoting the control of exploitation rates and the establishment of technical conservation measures to support the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks;
  • reducing the impact of fisheries activities on non-target species and on marine and coastal ecosystems;
  • avoiding aquaculture practices that may affect habitat conservation.

This Action Plan should lead to the application of the precautionary principle as set out in the Commission Communication of December 2000 on the application of the precautionary principle and multiannual arrangements for setting TACs [COM(2000)803].

The communication proposes measures to reduce fisheries activities, technical measures and measures to intensify research and monitoring.

In the field of aquaculture, the communication proposes measures to reduce its environmental impact, to limit the introduction of alien invasive species, to protect animal health and promote further research.

Additional key elements

Education, training, raising awareness and providing information are essential complements to the effective implementation of this action plan. The communication proposes:

  • information campaigns and other awareness-raising activities;
  • a communication on applying the precautionary principle in fisheries management;
  • vocational training to improve ecosystem management;
  • improving monitoring and assessment capabilities.

The development of the new common fisheries policy for 2002 offers an excellent opportunity to review the issues raised by this plan, and to introduce new measures or enhance existing measures.

Annex II summarises the objectives, actions and instruments proposed in the communication, and gives an indicative timetable for their implementation.

4) Deadlines For The Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States

Not required

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

Not required

6) References

COM(2001) 162 final
Not published in the Official Journal

7) Follow-Up Work

8) Commission Implementing Measures

Protection of certain seal species

Protection of certain seal species

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of certain seal species

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Protection of certain seal species

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 83/129/EEC of 28 March 1983 concerning the importation into Member States of skins of certain seal pups and products derived therefrom [See amending acts].

Summary

The importation for commercial purposes of certain products of whitecoat pups or harp seals and of pups of hooded seals, or blue backs, is prohibited throughout the Community.

The targets are:

  • raw furskins and furskins, tanned or dressed, including furskins assembled in plates, crosses, bags, square and similar forms;
  • articles of these furskins.

This Directive does not apply to products resulting from traditional hunting by the Inuit people.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 83/129/EEC 01.10.1983 OJ L 91 of 09.04.1983
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 89/370/EEC 15.06.1989 OJ L 163 of 14.06.1989

Related Acts

of 9.12.96 on trade in wild fauna and flora (EC) No 61/97 [Official Journal L 61 of 3 March 1997].
To conserve endangered species of wild fauna and flora, this Regulation controls trade in such species by imposing conditions on the importation, exportation or re-exportation thereof and on their movement within the European Union, in accordance with the CITES Convention.

Natural habitats

Natural habitats

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Natural habitats

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Natural habitats (Natura 2000)

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The continuing deterioration of natural habitats and the threats posed to certain species are one of the main concerns of European Union (EU) environment policy. This Directive, known as the Habitats Directive, is intended to help maintain biodiversity in the Member States by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of Community interest.

The Habitats Directive established the “Natura 2000” network. This network is the largest ecological network in the world. It comprises special areas of conservation designated by Member States under the current Directive. Furthermore, it also includes special protection areas classified pursuant to the “Wild birds” Directive 2009/147/EC.

Annexes I and II to the Directive contain the types of habitats and species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation. Some of them are defined as “priority” habitats or species (in danger of disappearing). Annex IV lists animal and plant species in need of particularly strict protection.

Special areas of conservation are designated in three stages. Following the criteria set out in the annexes, each Member State must draw up a list of sites hosting natural habitats and wild fauna and flora. On the basis of the national lists and by agreement with the Member States, the Commission will then adopt a list of sites of Community importance for each of the nine EU biogeographical regions (the Alpine region, the Atlantic region, the Black Sea region, the Boreal region, the Continental region, the Macronesian region, the Mediterranean region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region). No later than six years after the selection of a site of Community importance, the Member State concerned must designate it as a special area of conservation.

Where the Commission considers that a site which hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species has been omitted from a national list, the Directive provides for a bilateral consultation procedure to be initiated between that Member State and the Commission. If the result of the consultation is unsatisfactory, the Commission must forward a proposal to the Council relating to the selection of the site as a site of Community importance.

Member States must take all necessary measures to guarantee the conservation of habitats in special areas of conservation, and to avoid their deterioration and the significant disturbance of species. The Directive provides for co-financing of conservation measures by the Community.

Member States must also:

  • encourage the management of features of the landscape which are essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species;
  • establish systems of strict protection for those animal and plant species which are particularly threatened (Annex IV) and study the desirability of reintroducing those species in their territory;
  • prohibit the use of non-selective methods of taking, capturing or killing certain animal and plant species (Annex V).

Every six years, Member States must report on the measures they have taken pursuant to the Directive. The Commission must draw up a summary report on the basis thereof.

The annexes to the Directive were amended to take account of the biodiversity of the countries who acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007. The enlargement brought new challenges for biodiversity, as well as new elements, including three new biogeographical regions (the Black Sea region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region).

The Natura 2000 network now represents around 18 % of the EU’s terrestrial territory.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 92/43/EEC

10.6.1992

10.6.1992

OJ L 206 of 22.7.1992

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 97/62/EC

29.11.1997

31.12.1997

OJ L 305 of 8.11.1997

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2006/105/EC

1.1.2007

1.1.2007

OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

The successive amendments and corrections successive to Directive 92/43/EEC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 13 July 2009 – Report on the Conservation Status of Habitat Types and Species as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive [COM(2009) 358 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report enabled the implementation of the Habitats Directive for the period 2001-2006 in the 25 Member States to be assessed. The report provides an overview of the biodiversity situation in the EU. It also constitutes a clear point of reference for assessing future trends in the status of its most vulnerable species and habitats.
The results show that favourable conservation status has not been achieved for many habitats and species listed under the Habitats Directive. Certain habitat types (in particular, grassland, wetland and coastal zones) have an overall poor status. Signs of recovery have been observed for certain species (for example, the wolf, Eurasian lynx, beaver and otter). However, further efforts are required to establish healthy and sustainable populations.
The Natura 2000 network must continue to develop; restoration measures for certain sites must be provided. The network and sites will then need to be managed effectively and properly resourced.
Lastly, a large number of Member States do not invest sufficient resources in monitoring the status of species and habitats within their territories. In the absence of reliable data it will be impossible to assess the impact of conservation measures.

Biogeographical regions

In line with the “Habitats Directive”, the Commission must, in agreement with the Member States concerned, draw up a list of sites of European importance for each of the nine biogeographical regions.

List of the Alpine region sites
Decision 2011/62/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Atlantic region sites
Decision 2011/63/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Black Sea region sites
Decision 2009/92/EC [Official Journal L 43 of 13.2.2009].

List of the Boreal region sites
Decision 2011/84/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Continental region sites
Decision 2011/64/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Macronesian region sites
Decision 2009/1001/EC [Official Journal L 344 of 23.12.2009].

List of the Mediterranean region sites
Decision 2011/85/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Pannonian region sites
Decision 2011/86/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Steppic region sites
Decision 2008/966/EC [Official Journal L 344 of 20.12.2008].

Financing Natura 2000

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 July 2004 – Financing Natura 2000 [COM(2004) 431– Not published in the Official Journal].
With completion of the Natura 2000 network, the management of designated sites will become the priority measure for protecting biodiversity in the EU. Sufficient funding will be required to ensure that the Natura 2000 network fulfils the objectives that have been set and is adapted to specific local requirements. The Commission considers that the network can bring considerable benefits, both economic (the development of ecosystem services, provision of food and wood products, activities related to the site such as tourism, etc.) and social (more diverse employment opportunities, increased social stability, improved living conditions, safeguarding heritage, etc.). A new Communication on financing Natura 2000 should be adopted by the end of 2011.

Combating invasive species

Combating invasive species

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating invasive species

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Combating invasive species

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 3 December 2008 – Towards an EU strategy on invasive species [COM(2008) 789 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Invasive species are animal or plant species that have become established in areas that are not their normal habitat and have become a threat. These non-native species may cause serious damage to ecosystems, crops, disrupt local ecology, impact human health and produce serious economic effects.

The main vectors introducing invasive species are directly or indirectly related to trade and transport. Climate change and the deterioration of natural habitats foster their spread. At present, the European Union (EU) has no specific instrument to tackle this issue.

At international level, a three-stage approach has been adopted by the Commission, which recommends measures based on:

  • prevention, to limit introductions resulting from trade which, in particular, necessitates stronger border controls;
  • early detection and rapid eradication which require monitoring and early warning programmes;
  • control and/or confinement if the invasive species is already established, as well as the implementation of coordinated action.

The legislation in force, particularly the plant health Directive, animal health legislation and the CITES Regulation, and a number of programmes already provide instruments to tackle the threat constituted by invasive species. However, coverage of the problem is still partial and does not enable coordinated implementation to take place.

Four strategic options can be envisaged to tackle the problem of invasive species in the EU:

  • business as usual: if no steps are taken, invasive species will continue to establish themselves and an increase in ecological, economic and social consequences is to be expected, as well as an increase in costs;
  • maximising existing instruments and voluntary measures: legal requirements would remain unchanged but stakeholders would consciously choose to tackle the problem of invasive species under the legislation in force. The Commission stresses however that the level of response may vary considerably from one Member State to another;
  • adapted existing legislation: a similar option to the above, but including the amendment of existing legislation on plant/animal health to cover a broader range of potentially invasive species;
  • the creation of a specific Community instrument: this option would in particular include an obligation for Member States to carry out border controls and to exchange information on invasive species. The Commission considers that this option would be the most effective.

Several horizontal issues related to invasive species should also be tackled. It is therefore important to build a sense of responsibility amongst citizens, authorities and industries with regard to the problem, to intensify research in order to gain a better understanding of the risks and to undertake bilateral action with third countries, in particular under development policy.

Context

Combating invasive species forms part of the Action Plan for biodiversity which recognises the necessity to prepare a comprehensive strategy at EU level to reduce their impact on biological diversity in Europe. The Commission intends to present such a proposal in 2010.

Conservation of wild birds

Conservation of wild birds

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Conservation of wild birds

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Conservation of wild birds

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds.

Summary

Member States of the European Union (EU) shall take measures to guarantee the conservation and govern the exploitation of wild birds naturally occurring in the European territory in order to maintain their population at a satisfactory level, or to adapt their population to that level.

Protection of habitats

The disappearance or deterioration of habitats represents a threat to the conservation of wild birds. Their protection is therefore essential.

To preserve, maintain or re-establish the biotopes and habitats of birds, Member States shall:

  • designate protected areas;
  • ensure the upkeep and management of habitats in accordance with ecological needs;
  • re-establish destroyed biotopes and create biotopes.

Special protection areas

Member States shall create special protection areas (SPAs) for threatened species of birds and for migratory birds (see Annex I). These areas are to be situated in the birds’ natural area of distribution and may include wintering and nesting grounds or staging posts along migration routes.

Member States shall pay particular attention to wetlands, which are in decline across Europe. They shall also create conditions favourable to the survival or reproduction of the species occurring in special protection areas. To this end, they shall take the necessary steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of habitats or any disturbances affecting the birds. They shall also assess the impact of projects likely to have a significant effect on the designated areas and take appropriate measures to avoid them.

The special protection areas (SPAs), together with the special areas of conservation (SACs) under the “Habitats” Directive (92/43/EEC), form the Natura 2000 European network of protected ecological sites.

Protection of wild birds

This Directive establishes a general system of protection for all species of wild birds occurring in European territory. It prohibits in particular:

  • deliberate destruction or capture of wild birds;
  • destruction of, or damage to, nests;
  • taking or keeping eggs even if empty;
  • practices which deliberately disturb the birds and which jeopardise the conservation of the species;
  • trade in and the keeping of live or dead species the hunting and capture of which are not permitted (this prohibition also applies to any parts or derivatives of a bird).

Under certain conditions, Member States may derogate from the provisions laid down for the protection of wild birds. However, the consequences of such derogations must not be incompatible with the conservation objectives specified in the Directive.

Member States must promote research for the purposes of the management, protection and wise exploitation of the species of wild birds occurring in the European territory (see Annex V).

Hunting

Species whose numbers, distribution and reproductive rate allow may be hunted. However, the practice of hunting must comply with certain principles:

  • the number of birds taken must not jeopardise the maintenance at a satisfactory level of the population of species which may be hunted;
  • species are not to be hunted during periods of breeding or rearing;
  • migratory species are not to be hunted during their return to their breeding grounds;
  • methods for the large-scale or non-selective killing of birds are prohibited (see Annex IV).

The list of species which may be hunted is provided in Annex II (Part A gives the list of species which may be hunted throughout the EU, and Part B the list of species which may be hunted in certain countries only).

Context

This Directive replaces Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 (more commonly known as the “Birds” Directive), which was the oldest EU legislative text relating to nature. However, the modifications made are purely formal. The “Birds” Directive established for the first time a general system for the protection of all species of wild birds naturally occurring in the territory of the Union. It also recognises that wild birds, which include a large number of migratory species, are a shared heritage of the EU Member States and that their conservation, to be effective, requires cooperation on a global scale.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/147/EC

15.2.2010

OJ L 20 of 26.1.2010

Protection of nature and biodiversity

Protection of nature and biodiversity

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of nature and biodiversity

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Protection of nature and biodiversity

Increased urbanisation and the spread of human infrastructures, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution in all its forms, the introduction of exotic species into our ecosystems – these factors are all highly damaging for biodiversity. As a result, 42% of mammals, 15% of birds and 52% of freshwater fish across Europe are under threat. In addition, nearly 1000 plant species are at serious risk or on the verge of disappearing completely. In order to safeguard biodiversity and combat the extinction of animal and plant species, the European Union has set up a vast network of protected sites (the Natura 2000 network) and made the protection of biodiversity one of the key objectives of the Sixth Environment Action Programme.

BIODIVERSITY

  • Biodiversity strategy for 2020
  • Action Plan for biodiversity
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for the Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Agriculture
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries
  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Economic and Development Co-operation
  • Bern Convention
  • The Rio de Janeiro Convention on biological diversity

MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources
  • Environment and sustainable management of natural resources, including energy
  • Action plan for an integrated maritime policy

Biofuels

  • EU strategy for biofuels
  • Motor vehicles: use of biofuels

Management of marine resources

  • Conservation and exploitation of marine resources
  • Conservation of certain stocks of migratory fish
  • Conservation and management of sharks

FAUNA AND FLORA

  • Natural habitats (Natura 2000)
  • Conservation of wild birds
  • Endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES)
  • Conservation of Antarctic marine living resources
  • Conservation of migratory species – Bonn Convention
  • The keeping of wild animals in zoos
  • Protection of laboratory animals
  • Protecting cetaceans against incidental catch
  • Protection of certain seal species
  • International Dolphin Conservation Programme
  • Whaling
  • Protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas from bottom fishing
  • Destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of ecosystems
  • Alien and locally absent species
  • Combating invasive species
  • Convention on the Protection of the Alps
  • Ban on trade in cat and dog fur
  • Trade in seal products

FORESTS

  • FLEGT Licensing scheme
  • Fight against illegal logging
  • Combating deforestation
  • European Union forest action plan
  • The EU forestry strategy

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

  • Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs)
  • Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms
  • Novel foods and food ingredients
  • Traceability and labelling of GMOs
  • Food and Feed (GMO)

Novel foods and food ingredients

Novel foods and food ingredients

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Novel foods and food ingredients

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Novel foods and food ingredients

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 258/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 1997 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The novel foods and food ingredients concerned by this Regulation are those which are not yet currently used for human consumption.

Novel foods and food ingredients

This Regulation applies to foods and food ingredients in the following categories:

  • foods and food ingredients which present a new or modified primary molecular structure;
  • foods and food ingredients which consist of micro-organisms, fungi or algae;
  • foods and food ingredients which consist of or are isolated from plants and ingredients isolated from animals;
  • foods and food ingredients whose nutritional value, metabolism or level of undesirable substances has been significantly changed by the production process.

The Regulation is not applicable to food additives, flavourings, extraction solvents, nor to food enzymes (which are the subject of Regulation (EC) No 1332/2008).

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are no longer covered by this Regulation, but by Regulation (EC) No 1823/2003 instead.

Furthermore, foods and food ingredients covered by this Regulation must not:

  • present a danger for the consumer;
  • mislead him/her;
  • be nutritionally disadvantageous for him/her.

Evaluation procedure

The foods and foods ingredients referred to in the Regulation must undergo Community assessment before being placed on the market.

Under the assessment procedure, the competent body of the Member State which receives an application must make an initial assessment and determine whether or not an additional assessment is required. If neither the Commission nor the Member States raise an objection, and if no additional assessment is required, the Member State informs the applicant that he may place the product on the market. In other cases an authorisation decision is required. This decision is adopted in accordance with the measures proposed by the Commission within the Committee on Food Safety and Animal Health.

The decision defines the scope of the authorisation and specifies, as appropriate, the conditions of use, the designation of the food or food ingredient, its specification and the specific labelling requirements.

Any decision or provision concerning a novel food or food ingredient which is likely to have an effect on public health must be referred to the Scientific Committee for Food.

Labelling

The Regulation lays down specific requirements concerning the labelling of novel food and food ingredients which have been added to the European general requirements on food labelling.

Without prejudice to the general requirements of European legislation concerning the labelling of foodstuffs, the labelling of novel food and food ingredients must mention:

  • any characteristics such as composition, nutritional value or the intended use of the foodstuff;
  • the presence of materials which may have implications for the health of some individuals;
  • the presence of materials which give rise to ethical concerns.

Suspension procedure

Member States are authorised to suspend or restrict provisionally the marketing and use in their territory of any novel food or food ingredient if they believe that its use constitutes a health hazard or a risk to the environment. They inform the Commission, which takes steps in accordance with the procedure regarding authorisations for placing products on the market.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition into the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 258/97

14.5.1997

15.5.1997

OJ L 43 of 14.2.1997

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003

11.7.2003

OJ L 268 of 18.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009

7.8.2009

OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 258/97 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.

Conservation and management of sharks

Conservation and management of sharks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Conservation and management of sharks

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Conservation and management of sharks

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 5 February 2009 on a European Community Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks [COM(2009) 40 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Sharks belong to the family of chondrichthyans or cartilaginous fish, as do skate and chimaera. Chondrichthyans include more than 1000 species which are very different from a morphological point of view. Some of them are almost extinct due to their biological cycle and over-fishing.

Objectives

This Action Plan is based on the 1999 FAO International Plan of action for the conservation and management of sharks (IPOA SHARKS), the objective of which is to guarantee the conservation and management of sharks which had been decimated by the Community fleet.

This Action Plan pursues three specific objectives:

  • to improve knowledge of fisheries and shark species, as well as their role in the ecosystem;
  • to introduce sustainable exploitation of shark stocks and to reduce by-catches;
  • to enhance a coherent approach between the internal and external Community policy for sharks.

Scope

This Action Plan applies to fisheries:

  • located in Community waters;
  • covered by an agreement or partnership between the Community and third countries;
  • located in international waters (high seas);
  • covered by a Regional Fishery Management Organisation (RFMO).

It covers directed commercial fishing, recreational fishing and bycatches of any chondrichthyan.

Guidelines

The Community must develop a gradual strategy to deal with shark-related issues. The development of this strategy is based on scientific data collected under the multi-annual Community programme for data collection pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 199/2008. This programme supplements the assessment of the stocks status carried out by the ICES working group on sharks through 2007-2009.

The conservation of shark species requires that regional cooperation be strengthened, through RFMOs, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The range of the different species is not limited to Community waters. It is for this reason in particular that the Community requests support for the work carried out by the RFMOs, reinforcement of the role of existing RFMOs in fisheries management policy and cooperation in creating new RFMOs in areas which lack them.

Proper management of shark stocks requires an integrated framework of actions. The Community Action Plan is structured in accordance with the FAO shark-plan. It includes a set of measures intended to improve data collection and scientific advice, management and technical measures and a further strengthening of the application of the shark finning ban.

Main actions

The Community Action Plan foresees:

  • increasing investments in shark data collection;
  • establishing systems to provide verification of catch information by species and by fishery;
  • improving the monitoring and reporting of catch, bycatch and discards, as well as market and international trade data;
  • preparing and implementing measures to assist in species identification and monitoring, as called for in the IPAO-SHARKS;
  • facilitating stakeholder awareness-raising and consultation regarding shark management and best practices to reduce by-catches;
  • launching educational programmes aimed specifically at educating the public about chondrichthyan conservation programmes;
  • adapting catches and fishing effort to available resources;
  • limitation or prohibition of fishing activities in areas that are considered sensitive for endangered stocks;
  • prohibiting all shark discards in the medium to long term and requiring that all catches be landed;
  • increasing selectivity in order to reduce by-catches;
  • confirmation of the shark finning ban.

Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 3 June 2011, entitled: “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” [COM(2011) 244 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems in the European Union (EU) by 2020, by identifying six priority targets.. This strategy is an integral part of the Europe 2020 strategy, and, in particular, of the flagship initiative entitled “A resource-efficient Europe”.

Target 1: conserving and restoring nature

The EU must ensure better application of Directives “Birds” and “Habitats”. These two Directives constitute the backbone of EU biodiversity policy. They have achieved some good results so far, such as the creation of Natura 2000, the world’s largest network of protected areas, covering over 750 000 km2.. However, progress is still insufficient in terms of reaching a favourable conservation status of all habitats and species of European importance. In order to achieve the first target of this strategy, Member Sates must ensure better application of existing legislation. In particular, they must manage and restore the Natura 2000 sites by investing the necessary resources. These actions would contribute towards halting biodiversity loss and restoring biodiversity by 2020.

Target 2: maintaining and enhancing ecosystems and their services

The integration of a green infrastructure, restoring at least 15 % of the degraded ecosystems by 2020, and the development of an initiative aimed at preventing any net loss of ecosystems and their services by 2015, will be essential measures for maintaining and improving ecosystem services (for example the pollination of crops by bees).

Target 3: ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and forestry

The instruments provided under the CAP should contribute towards maximising areas under agriculture across grasslands, arable land, and permanent crops that are covered by biodiversity measures, by 2020.

Forest Management Plans or equivalent instruments will be put in place for all forests that are publicly owned and for forest holdings above a certain size, by 2020. The plans must ensure sustainable management of forests in order to receive funding under the EU’s Rural Development Policy.

Measures adopted to ensure sustainable management must also contribute towards achieving targets 1 and 2 of the strategy.

Target 4: ensuring sustainable use of fisheries resources

The measures adopted as part of the Common Fisheries Policy must enable the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) to be achieved by 2015. In order to achieve this, it is essential to achieve a population by age and by size distribution indicative of a healthy stock. Through fisheries management with no significant adverse impacts on other stocks, species and ecosystems, it will be possible to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020, in accordance with the “Marine Strategy Framework-Directive”..

Target 5: combating invasive alien species

With the exception of the legislation on the use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture, there is currently no comprehensive EU policy on combating invasive alien species. However, these species pose a significant threat to European biodiversity. It is therefore necessary to identify them, isolate or eradicate them, and to control their introduction in order to prevent the appearance of new species. To this end, the Commission will fill policy gaps in combating invasive alien species with a dedicated legislative instrument..

Target 6: addressing the global biodiversity crisis

The EU must step up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss by meeting the commitments made at the 10th Conference of Parties (COP10) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which took place in Nagoya in 2010. During this conference, the EU committed to:

  • achieving the goals set by the global strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020;
  • implementing the Nagoya protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use (ABS Protocol); and
  • mobilising additional resources to finance the challenge of protecting biodiversity world-wide.

Context

The strategy responds to two major commitments made by EU officials in March 2010, namely halting biodiversity loss in the EU by 2020 and protecting, assessing and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2050.