Habitats Directive (1992/43)

Title: Habitats Directive

Category: EU Directive

Date: 1992

Reference: 92/43/EEC [Full text] (implemented in the UK by the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations: SI 1994/2716)

General Description:

It has been estimated that there are around 3,300 plant species in the core 12 EU countries. Around 10% of these are thought to be under threat of survival. This Directive, which was been implemented in stages, aims to protect them by setting up special areas of conservation and special protection areas for endangered species of wild birds.

The directive requires member states to identify natural habitats and species of community interest, which may occur in their territories. States must maintain or achieve a 'favourable conservation status for these species and habitats through designation of protected 'Special Areas for Conservation' (SACs), and also through special measures to protect individual species. In the UK this has been / will be implemented through the maintenance and extension of the ~8% of land area covered by SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest). SSSIs were set up under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Particularly threatened species and habitats enjoy stronger protection; in the UK these include:

Yew woods
Active raised and blanket bogs
Dune heaths
Caledonian forests
Limestone pavements

Proposed SACs must be agreed with Brussels by 1998, and the final list designated by 2004. The SACs join the Special Protection areas (SPAs) designated under the 1979 Wildbirds Directive, in a new EU protected network referred to as Natura 2000.

Pertinence to Agriculture: Biodiversity, Conservation

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