Story EU Nature Policy has delivered benefits for birds in Europe

EU Nature Policy has delivered benefits for birds in Europe

The European Communities  Birds Directive which was adopted in 1979, a legal instrument designed to protect birds at a continental scale, has indeed improved the fortunes of the most threatened and vulnerable European species, signalling that conservation can deliver real results if it is enshrined in law and acted upon.

Release date 09/09/2007
Contributor Rania Spyropoulou
Geographical coverage Europe, EU - European Union
Keywords evaluation, policy, biodiverity, bird conservationl, legislation
Concerned URL
Source RSPB/BirdLife: Dr Paul Donald, tel +44(0)1767 689 3063

The Birds Directive of the European Communities, although agreed in 1979, is still a world-leading piece of conservation legislation that produces concrete results across many countries, according to recent research findings. Comperative analyses of bird population trends provide strong evidence for a positive impact of this legal instrument, by identifying positive associations between the rate of provision of certain conservation measures through the Directive and the response of bird populations across European countries.


Evaluating the impact of international policies is extremely difficult because information on how species respond to them is usually lacking. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of amateur and professional ornithologists across Europe, BirdLife was able to compare trends of different groups of birds.


The study reinforces the importance of adequate monitoring of conservation measures and recommends that future policy should ensure that monitoring is in place to estimate the impacts of that policy.


Evidence has been provided on the better progress of the EU’s most threatened bird species, which have received the targeted conservation help associated with their special protection status, compared to the species not listed as specially protected. Following the implementation of the Birds Directive, the listed species did better inside the EU than outside the EU.It was established that, on average, it takes over ten years of policy measures before improvements in whole populations are detectible.


Reference: Donald, PF, Sanderson, FJ, Burfield, IJ, Bierman, SM, Gregory, RD & Waliczky, Z (2007) International conservation policy delivers benefits for birds in Europe. Science317, 810-813.

For further information
RSPB/BirdLife: Dr Paul Donald, tel +44(0)1767 689 3063