EC steps in to protect birds

Greece’s failure to properly implement the European Union’s oldest piece of nature conservation legislation – the 1979 Wild Birds Directive – by not creating sanctuaries for wild birds and protecting endangered avian species, led to court action from Brussels yesterday. «Greece has an important role to play in conserving and protecting Europe’s wild birds, especially the more vulnerable species,» Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said, announcing the Commission’s decision to take Greece to the European Court of Justice. «It is evident that more sites must be properly designated.» The Commission said that, according to «available scientific information,» 186 sites in Greece, covering over 3 million hectares, ought to have been designated special protection areas (SPAs) for birds. Instead, under 1.5 million acres have been designated. Furthermore, Greece has failed to sufficiently safeguard the habitat of birds, such as the imperial eagle, the lesser kestrel, the bearded vulture and the black vulture, in its SPAs.

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