Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds
The European Union meets its obligations for bird species under
Convention and Bonn Convention and more generally by means of
Directive 2009/147/EC (Birds
Directive)on the conservation of wild
birds (the codified version of
Council Directive 79/409/EEC as amended). The Directive
provides a framework for the conservation and management of, and
human interactions with, wild birds in Europe. It sets broad
objectives for a wide range of activities, although the precise
legal mechanisms for their achievement are at the discretion of
each Member State (in the UK delivery is via several different
statutes). The Directive applies to the UK and to its overseas
territory of Gibraltar.
The main provisions of the Directive include:
- The maintenance of the populations of all wild bird species
across their natural range (Article 2) with the encouragement
of various activities to that end (Article 3).
- The identification and classification of Special Protection
Areas (SPAs) for rare or vulnerable species listed in Annex
I of the Directive, as well as for all regularly occurring
migratory species, paying particular attention to the protection of
wetlands of international importance (Article 4). (Together with
Special Areas of Conservation designated under the Habitats
Directive, SPAs form a network of European protected areas known as
- The establishment of a general scheme of protection for all
wild birds (Article 5).
- Restrictions on the sale and keeping of wild birds (Article
- Specification of the conditions under which hunting and
falconry can be undertaken (Article 7). (Huntable species are
listed on Annex II of the Directive).
- Prohibition of large-scale non-selective means of bird killing
- Procedures under which Member States may derogate from the
provisions of Articles 5-8 (Article 9) — that is, the conditions
under which permission may be given for otherwise prohibited
- Encouragement of certain forms of relevant research (Article 10
and Annex V).
- Requirements to ensure that introduction of non-native birds do
not threatened other biodiversity (Article 11).
The Directive has facilitated much co-operative conservation
action across the European Union. Many initiatives have
increased understanding of conservation needs, including the
international action plans for the most threatened species
(including – with implications for the UK, bittern, white-headed
duck, roseate tern, corncrake, aquatic warbler and Scottish
crossbill). Recent years have seen a
major review of the timing of migration and breeding of quarry
species listed under Article II of the Directive,
EU management plans for huntable bird species in unfavourable
status, as well as a
guidance on hunting issues.
A major conference to celebrate the 25th anniversary
of the Directive in 2004 agreed important
strategic priorities for the implementation of the
JNCC acts as the technical advisor to Defra
regarding the UK's implementation of the Birds Directive, and
coordinates relevant actions across the country agencies. A major
task was the coordination of the UK's review of Special Protection Areas, published in 2001.
Transposition to UK Legislation
In the UK, the provisions of the Birds Directive are implemented
through the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended),
the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.)
Regulations 2010 (as amended); the Wildlife (Northern Ireland)
Order 1985; the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern
Ireland) Order 1985; the Conservation
(Natural Habitats, &c.) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1995
(as amended) the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats &
c.) Regulations 2007 as well as other legislation related to
the uses of land and sea.
A very wide range of other statutory and non-statutory
activities also support the implementation of the Birds Directive
in the UK. This includes national bird monitoring schemes, bird
conservation research, and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan which
involves action for a number of bird species and the habitats which