Defending our nature laws

European laws protect some of our most precious wildlife and special nature areas (called Natura 2000 sites). For now these laws are still in place in Britain, but some UK politicians have already said they want to weaken nature protection when we leave the EU. We need to keep telling politicians how important it is for us to have special places for nature and to have nature in our lives.

The story so far

The EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives - known as the nature laws – have been under close scrutiny, and under threat, since 2014.

Many of us have been involved in defending these laws in all sorts of ways during this time:

  • By being one of the 500,000+ people who called for nature laws to be kept and better enforced by taking part in the biggest ever EU consultation response.
  • By showing politicians why we care about these special nature areas by sharing our stories on the map below. We shared these with key politicians to help them appreciate how much nature means to people. And they responded.
  • By writing to politicians at critical moments, including over 11,000 emails to the UK Commissioner Sir Julian King and President Juncker in the run-up to the final decision. 

All these efforts paid off on 7 December 2016 when the European Commission decided to keep the laws and set out an action plan to make sure they are used properly to protect and restore nature.

What next?

The EU nature laws have been enshrined in UK legislation. But after Brexit some big name politicians in the UK will use the referendum result to weaken wildlife protections. This means some of the UK’s best loved wildlife sites are now in the firing line – including places like Cannock Chase, Flamborough Head, Dartmoor and Snowdonia. And the protection that the EU Habitats Directive gave to over 1,000 animal and plant species and 200 habitat types is now in danger

On 2 October 2015 an EU report showed that nature is in trouble, including in the UK. It called for bolder action for nature, and for wildlife laws to be better enforced by national Governments. This still needs to happen. We must not let the UK Government use the referendum result as an excuse to lower environmental protection.  

Our success so far shows that politicians are more likely to act for nature if they feel under public pressure. Click here to stay involved with our work on nature.