Assessing the Performance of EU Nature Legislation in Protecting Target Bird Species in an Era of Climate Change
Version of Record online: 25 AUG 2015
Copyright and Photocopying: © 2015 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
How to Cite
Sanderson, F. J., Pople, R. G., Ieronymidou, C., Burfield, I. J., Gregory, R. D., Willis, S. G., Howard, C., Stephens, P. A., Beresford, A. E. and Donald, P. F. (2015), Assessing the Performance of EU Nature Legislation in Protecting Target Bird Species in an Era of Climate Change. Conservation Letters. doi: 10.1111/conl.12196
- Version of Record online: 25 AUG 2015
- Accepted manuscript online: 20 JUL 2015 04:33AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 JUL 2015
- Manuscript Received: 16 APR 2015
- Conservation policy;
- European Union;
- bird population trends;
- climate change;
- birds directive;
International legislation forms a cornerstone of conservation, yet its efficacy is rarely quantified. We assess whether species listed on Annex I of the European Union (EU) Birds Directive, for which EU Member States are obliged to implement special conservation measures, differ systematically in their short-term (2001-2012) or long-term (1980-2012) population trends from those of non-Annex I species. In both periods, Annex I species had more positive trends than non-Annex I species, particularly in countries that joined the EU earlier. There were additional signatures of climate change and life history strategy in the trends of species in one or both periods. Within Annex I species, long-distance migrants fared significantly worse than other species, suggesting that enhanced protection on the breeding grounds alone may be insufficient for these species. We conclude that the EU's conservation legislation has had a demonstrably positive impact on target species, even during a period in which climate change has significantly affected populations.