Natura sites and the Habitats and Birds Directives
Scotland is home to many wonderful plants, animals and birds - some rare, endangered or vulnerable. By caring for these and other species, we can make an important contribution to conserving the world's biodiversity. Natura sites represent the very best of Scotland's nature. Natura is the term given to Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). These internationally important sites are designated under two of the most influential pieces of European legislation relating to nature conservation, the Habitats and Birds Directives.
The Birds Directive
Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the conservation of wild birds, commonly known as the Birds Directive, protects all wild birds, their nests, eggs and habitats within the European Community. It gives member states of the European Union the power and responsibility to classify Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to protect birds which are rare or vulnerable in Europe, as well as all migratory birds which are regular visitors. The 2009 Directive is the consolidated (or 'codified') version of Council Directive 79/409/EEC which originally came into force in 1979 and was amended many times before being replaced by the current version.
The Habitats Directive
Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora was adopted in 1992 and is commonly known as the Habitats Directive. It complements and amends the Birds Directive. The Habitats Directive is a major contribution by the European Community to implementing the Biodiversity Convention agreed by more than 150 countries at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. As well as establishing Natura sites and setting out how they should be protected, the Directive has a number of wider implications, such as those relating to European Protected Species. In Scotland, the requirements of the Habitats Directive are translated into specific legal obligations by the Habitats Regulations.