Wildbirds Directive (1979/409)

Title: The Wildbirds Directive

Category: EU Directive

Date: 1979

References: 79/409/EEC [Full text]

General Description:

The rapid decline of wild-birds throughout Europe and the subsequent threat to ecological balance prompted the European Commission to pass the Wild Birds Directive in 1979. This acknowledged that because many birds are migratory is was essential to have a Community wide approach.

Under the Wild Birds Directive (79/409), member states are required to take measures to maintain a sufficient diversity of habitats for all European bird species. They are also required to take special steps to conserve the habitats of certain listed, rare or vulnerable birds and of all regularly occurring migratory species. The Directive includes a list of the bird species considered to be endangered. Article 4 specifies that for the species identified special conservation measures are required concerning habitats in order to ensure species reproduction and survival. This includes designation of the most suitable habitats as special protection areas.

An onus is placed on member states to ensure that all bird species have a sufficient diversity of habitats to maintain their populations. The Directive provides provision for the re-establishment of damaged habitats, creation of protected areas and re-establishment or creation of biotopes. Member states are also required to take the necessary steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of habitats. In this country protection is provided through the town planning and SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) systems.

Article 5 of the Directive prohibits the following:


  1. deliberate killing or capture of birds;
  2. deliberate destruction or damage to birds nests, or eggs;
  3. removal of eggs in any condition;
  4. disturbance of migratory birds, particularly whilst breeding or rearing young;
  5. hunting or capture of protected species.

Pertinence to Agriculture: Conservation, Biodiversity

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