It seems that whenever Europe imposes a law or regulation which is to be adhered to by the member states, there is a wide range of interpretation as to exactly how it should be applied and imposed, British wildlife and conservation issues are no exception. You only need take a look at how the anti smoking laws have been applied to see a significant difference in how each country applies them, in the UK we have an outright ban, in other countries they seem to ignore it completely, and I’ve heard (although not experienced) of others which have a collection pot in the bar, smokers put in a Euro or 2 if they want to smoke and that money is used for paying off the fines.
Wildlife law and legislation is no different. Europe imposes a number of regulations to be applied across European states which are in place to protect specific species, however due to differing geological and weather factors, these laws have some degree of flexibility and are therefore imposed by each country within their own legal systems, there are a set of regulations which apply in the UK, it’s these which impact how our conservation laws are imposed.
One such Council Directive is regarding the conservation of natural habitats, it has the rather catch name Directive 92/43/EEC you can read about it here, in short it is designed to protect habitats around Europe and ensures that member states maintain and protect local habitats and species which live within them, have dedicated areas which are fully protected, put measures in place to ensure conservation areas are maintained for the appropriate indigenous species, in some cases surveillance must also be undertaken to monitor and protect at risk species. Each member state must also report back to confirm exactly what has been done every six years.
All this is ultimately good news for Britain’s protected and endangered species and supporting industries and charities. There is huge interest in wildlife conservation in the UK at present with a range of equipment available for all manner of activities, from bat detectors for the monitoring of populations, badger gates and fencing to allow them free passage through rabbit fencing and various artificial habitats for all manner of creatures from the Dormouse and wild birds to hedgehogs, as can be seen here. I’ve even seen a recent television advert encouraging children to get involved in conservation and add hedgehog hibernation areas, bee hotels and all manner of ways to attract wildlife into urban areas.
This combined with the recent news stories about the decline of both honey bees and our 250 species of solitary bees due to habitat destruction and the use of pesticides has also helped to drum up the public’s interest in protecting our wildlife and encouraged an upsurge in the number of beekeepers across the UK, both in the countryside and urban areas.
It seems that Europe is making some wise decisions regarding wildlife protection and has even put a temporary ban on the use of certain pesticides while further testing is done regarding their impact on the environment, it also seems that the UK is putting these new regulations to good use and applying them in a way which should help to protect our endangered and indigenous species into the future.