Nature's last line of defence | WWF
© Jorge Sierra / WWF Spain - Tablas Daimiel National Park

Nature's last line of defence

European Commission must stand-up for Europe's nature

The EU Nature Directives are world-leading laws which protect Europe's unique biodiversity,
but implementation and enforcement are lacking at the Member State level.
When Member States fail, the European Commission must hold them to account.
The Commission is truly nature's last line of Defence.

Hydropower Dams

Free-flowing rivers provide fundamental services, such as supplying water for drinking, agriculture and many industries. 

Rivers are protected under the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and often included in the Natura 2000 Network. Despite free-flowing rivers being of undeniable importance for nature, society and economies, they have been relentlessly dammed for hydropower (HP) all across Europe for generations.  There are over 25,000 HP dams in Europe.

The European Commission must enforce our world-leading nature and water laws. We call on the incoming Commission to take a stand, enforce the law and make it clear to all Member States - no new hydropower developments on Europe’s rivers. 

Intensive Agriculture

Countless scientific studies show that intensive agriculture in Europe is driving biodiversity loss, polluting our water, soil and air, and contributing to climate change.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has played a huge role in this, but with environmentally ambitious reform, it could become a key tool to support farmers in the transition to sustainability.

The EU Commission must stand-up for Europe's threatened wildlife and negotiate a future CAP that supports sustainable farming and does not undermine the EU Nature Directives. 

Unsustainable Tourism

Every year, millions of tourists flock to visit Europe’s most stunning natural sites, some of them protected by the EU Nature Directives. Out-of-control tourism developments are all too often trampling protected nature and crowding out wildlife.

Unsustainable tourism development is a major driver of biodiversity loss in Europe. Whether it be trampling turtle nesting areas and crowding out the space nature needs, or new hotels or golf resorts intruding on precious wildlife areas; developments are often destroying the very nature tourists love to visit.

The European Commission must ensure that tourism works for nature. The EU Nature Directives must be enforced in protected coastal zones overrun with unsustainable tourism.

Illegal Killing of Birds

An average of 24 million birds are illegally slaughtered by shooting, trapping, or poisoning in the Mediterranean each year as they attempt their perilous migratory journey between Africa and Europe. 

Endangered species, already brought to the brink by climate change and habitat loss, are being illegally shot out of the sky, trapped in glue or invisible nets, or fatally poisoned, edging them ever closer towards extinction despite being protected by the Birds Directive.

The EU Commission must stand-up for Europe’s threatened birds and ensure full implementation and enforcement of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

Case Studies