'Don't wreck the laws protecting nature' Europeans tell politicians

'Don't wreck the laws protecting nature' Europeans tell politicians

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Close to half a million Europeans have called on the continent's politicians to protect the laws safeguarding nature. 

Earlier this month, a three-month long consultation held by the European Commission drew to a close. It had sought to collect opinions on whether the EU's nature laws should be changed. 

The Wildlife Trusts, one of 100 UK-based organisations that came together to collect and submit evidence in support of the current laws, said conservation and wildlife groups across Europe are delighted with the show of public support. 

No previous consultation on EU law has seen so many people respond and around one in five of the near 500,000 individuals who did were based in the UK. 

Commenting on the public response, Geneviève Pons, director of the WWF's European Policy Office, stated: "At a time when the European Union is severely tested, the overwhelming support from all corners of the continent for Europe’s nature laws demonstrates that people can get together and defend what really matters to them.  Europeans care about their nature, and the Union’s laws that protect it."

She said the results of the consultation show that now is the time for the EU to devote more funding to nature protection and impose stronger law enforcement.

Dr Elaine King, director at Wildlife and Countryside Link, added that the continent's politicians "must listen" now that the public has spoken.

It had been suggested some nature protection laws, such as the Birds Directive, could be weakened in a bid to try and foster economic growth across the EU.

Kate Jennings, head of site conservation policy at the RSPB, warned such action could be disastrous both for wildlife and for Europe's businesses. She argued the latter have developed ways of working effectively within the current laws and any change would cause uncertainty and reverse much of the good work that has been done since the regulation was introduced. 

Research from the RSPB, BirdLife International and Durham University has revealed the Birds Directive has had a huge positive impact on threatened species across Europe. For example, it has helped the UK's Red Kite population grow by more than 2,000 per cent over the past 25 years.