New Guidance document on Protected Species is published
Back in 2017, the European Commission adopted the EU Action Plan for People, Nature and the Economy with the aim to focus action towards better, smarter and more cost-effective implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. As part of the Action Plan’s working programme, in 2018 the Commission started a consultation for the revision of the 2007 EC Guidance document on the strict protection of animal species of Community interest under the Habitats Directive. The revised guidance has finally now been published. Thanks to Eurogroup for Animals’ active participation in the EC stakeholder working group, most of our recommendations were taken into account.
The revised guidance aims to provide the Commission’s understanding of the legal provisions under articles 12 and 16, reflecting the latest legal interpretations of the Court of Justice of the European Union. In addition to legal interpretation and clarifications, the guidance offers practical tips on how to address conflicts between strictly protected species and human activities, including in relation to the possible use of derogations and lethal control, within the legal framework of the strict protection provisions set by the Directive.
Annex III of the guidance is dedicated to the wolf issue and presents specific examples of application of the above-mentioned rules, recalling the existing Commission initiatives and funding opportunities to support coexistence with human activities.
Some key points arising from the analyses are summarised below:
• Provisions establishing a strict protection framework should expressly address the specific problems and threats of the species, or group of species listed in Annex IV.
• Different types of measures may be required for different species, depending on their ecological requirements and problems and threats they are facing.
• The species protection measures apply irrespective of whether the species has attained a favourable conservation status.
“The three tests” approach:
Before granting a derogation, the competent authority must ensure that it fulfils the following three conditions:
• the derogation must be fully justified on the basis of one of the grounds listed in Article 16(1);
• there is no satisfactory alternative, and
• the derogation must not be detrimental to the maintenance of the populations of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range.
In order to facilitate the assessment of derogations, a flow chart is provided on page 49.
Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the guidance’s recommendations on taking into account non-lethal arrangements and preventive measures when deciding on and implementing management measures to help reduce conflicts with human activities. The recommendations for a comprehensive approach to funding and supporting measures to reduce wolf-related conflicts within a Member State, and ideally across the borders of Member States sharing the same wolf population are also welcomed.