Wildlife in Europe

Species: European conventions and legislative instruments

European conventions and legislative instruments about species include:

  • Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
    The objective of the Bonn Convention is the conservation of migratory species worldwide. In order to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered, contracting parties must endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I. To protect endangered migratory species, contracting parties to the Convention will also endeavour: to conserve or restore the habitats of endangered species; to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimise the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that impede the migration of the species; and to the extent feasible and appropriate, to prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species.
  • The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. States that under Article 11(2)(b) that each Contracting Party to the Convention undertakes to “strictly control the introduction of non-native species”.
  • Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (EC Habitats Directive) Article 22 of this Directive (92/43/EC) requires Member States to “ensure that the deliberate introduction into the wild of any species which is not native to their territory is regulated so as not to prejudice natural habitats within their natural range or the wild native fauna and flora and, if they consider it necessary, prohibit such introduction.”
  • Directive on the conservation of wild birds (EC Birds Directive) Article 11 of this Directive (79/409/EC) states that “Member States shall see that any introduction of species of bird which do not occur naturally in the wild state in the European territory of the member states does not prejudice the local flora and fauna.”
  • EC Wildlife Trade Regulations (see below)
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). (see below)
  • Water Framework Directive. This establishes a framework for national measures to achieve or maintain a good ecological status for European inland, transitional and coastal waters by 2015 and prevent their further deterioration.
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC (17 June 2008). Requires each Member State to develop a maritime strategy based on the ecosystem approach with the aim of acheiving or maintaining ‘good environmental status’ in the marine environment by 2021.
  • Plant Health Directive 2000/29/EC (8 May 2000). Establishes protective measures against the introduction into the EU and intra-EU spread of organisms harmful to plants or plant products.
  • Aquaculture Regulation 708/2007/EC (11 June 2007). Establishes a dedicated fromework to assess and minimise the possible impact of alien and locally absent species used in aquaculture on the aquatic environment.

CITES is implemented in the EU through the Wildlife Trade Regulations. Currently these are Council Regulation 338/97/EC on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein (the Basic Regulation) and Commission Regulation 865/2006/EC laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation 338/97/EC (the Implementing Regulation). Suspension regulations including 997/2010/EC (5 November 2010) and Regulation 359/2009/EC (30 April 2009) suspend the introduction into the Community of certain species from certain countries. Four animals species have been banned from import into the EU but there is no restriction on movement between Member States or holding:

  • Red-earred Terrapin or Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
  • American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
  • Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
  • American Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora

Annually, international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants is estimated to be worth billions of Euro and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to products derived from them, including food products, leather goods, timber, and medicines.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), signed in 1973, aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30 000 species of animals and plants. CITES works by making international trade in specimens of selected species subject to certain controls. These include a licensing system that requires the authorization of the import and (re-)export of species covered by the Convention. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, granting varying degrees of protection to them.

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