Bird species which are protected under the EU Birds Directive have fared better since 1980 than unprotected species, research has found. The study also showed that climate change does not undermine the effectiveness of the Bird Directive.
28 October 2015 / Ecology
EU Member States must take special conservation measures to protect certain species under Annex I of the EU Birds Directive. The researchers used bird species data gathered as a result of the reporting requirements of the Birds Directive to compare the population trends of these species to those of non-Annex I species.
The findings are good news for the legislation. Last September, the EC launched a public consultation on the Birds Directive as part of its REFIT ‘fitness check’ on whether it is fit for purpose. The UK-based authors have said their works shows that “multilateral conservation agreements can have significant benefits for wildlife even in the face of unprecedented climate changes.”
The study assessed long-term (1980–2012) and short-term trends (2001–2012) for all breeding bird species occurring naturally in the 27 member states. Using a statistical computation system, they found populations of Annex I species were better maintained than those not listed on the Annex. This effect applied to both time periods, and was more pronounced in countries that had been in the EU for longer.
At the same time, the team examined they evaluated the effect of climate change on the birds. To account for the effects of climate change, the researchers calculated whether the species would expand its range and population as a result of climate change, or whether the range of the species would narrow.
The results indicated that Annex I status has a strong, independent effect on a bird species’ population, despite its response to changing climate.