The Birds Directive, the oldest European legal text about environment, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2019. Since 1992, 566 LIFE projects targeting bird species have been involved in implementing this Directive in order to improve the conservation status of all species naturally living in the wild in the European territory.
The Birds Directive emerged in April 1979 from EU countries wanting to work together to address a fundamental fact of birdlife: birds migrate and know no borders. The only way to properly protect species and their habitats is by working across borders of Member States.
The Directive responded to the most serious threats to the conservation of wild birds: illegal persecution, habitat loss and degradation. It calls for co-financing to manage Special Protection Areas dedicated to birdlife protection and conservation. Today, there are over 5 650 protected sites for birds, covering more than 843 000km2 of the EU’s land and seas. Over half of all wild bird species assessed (52%) have a secure status. But around 17% of the species are still threatened and another 15% are near threatened, declining or depleted.