Scientists pour cold water on EU bird policy

February 27, 2008

New research from the University of Exeter in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin published in the journal Science (22 February 2008) questions claims that EU conservation policy has been successful in protecting endangered birds.

Introduced in 1979, the EU Birds Directive set out a plan to protect rare birds in all EU countries. A study by scientists from the RSPB and BirdLife International, published in Science in August 2007, argued that the policy had resulted in positive impacts on bird conservation, even saving species that were near extinction.

This new research, however, reveals that the arguments presented in the recent study were flawed and based on inadequate data and predictions. By simply comparing bird populations inside and outside of the EU, the research did not take into account the fact that EU countries are generally wealthier and more developed than European countries outside the Union.

Additionally the evidence used to support EU policy included marine reserves in some countries, but ignored them in others. The Exeter researchers argue that this created the impression that the major EU policy for bird protection has been a success when in reality it may well have fallen short of its original aims.

The new research argues that conservation policies require systematic monitoring and evaluation if they are to be scientifically valid. "Current EU conservation policy can be likened to launching a rocket to Mars, but not actually bothering to check whether it gets there" said lead author Rolando Rodríguez-Muñoz of the University of Exeter. "Without properly monitoring the efficacy of its policies, the EU risks wasting millions of pounds on ineffective conservation programmes.” He commented further: "The Birds and Habitats Directives have become the keystones of the EU conservation policies. They are potentially powerful tools to protect our environment, but for these efforts to be efficient we need feedback to allow us to adapt to new situations or to correct poor implementation.

Source: University of Exeter

Explore further: Scientists study predator-prey behavior between sharks and turtles

Related Stories

Scientists warn of species loss due to man-made landscapes

July 2, 2015

Research led by the University of Exeter has found a substantial reduction in bird species living in cultivated mango orchards compared to natural habitats in Southern Africa. The results, which are published today in the ...

Being smart about SMART environmental targets

March 10, 2015

Successful environmental conservation needs to focus on the negotiation process, not just the end target, according to new research from the University of Exeter, the University of Queensland, Imperial College London, Bangor ...

Recommended for you

Quantum computing will bring immense processing possibilities

September 2, 2015

The one thing everyone knows about quantum mechanics is its legendary weirdness, in which the basic tenets of the world it describes seem alien to the world we live in. Superposition, where things can be in two states simultaneously, ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.