EU policy

EU biodiversity policy is based on two main pieces of legislation - the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive (formerly know as the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora).

The latter aims to protect some 220 habitats and approximately 1000 species, which are considered to be of European interest, following criteria given in the Directive. It set-up Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), which together with the existing Special Protection Areas (SPAs), form a network of protected sites across the European Union called Natura 2000.

The usefulness of the strategy in Ireland has been questioned because most of the land in question is privately owned.

“Admittedly it is a difficult directive to implement in that it often cuts across social traditions in Ireland and can be seen as a block to economic development. However, these should be seen as short term difficulties." (Biodiversity Decreasing -27-05-28.) 

The 2006 Biodiversity Action Plan is also central to EU policy and addresses the challenge of intergrating biodiversity concerns into other policy sections in a united way. More details of the plan are available on the Europa website.

Moving forward, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the EU Biodiversity 2020 Strategy. On 16 December 2015, the Environmental Council adopted Conclusions on the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. On 2 February 2016, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

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