Legislation & Guidance

An understanding of the legislative framework for the protection of the UK’s wildlife and habitats is useful particularly in relation to the the planning process and gives context to biodiversity conservation initiatives.

European Commission Wildlife Legislation

Compliance with the following European directives is required as a minimum requirement: the Habitats Directive – Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and the Wild Birds Directive - Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds.

The Habitats Directive together with the Birds Directive forms the cornerstone of Europe's nature conservation policy. It is built around two pillars: the Natura 2000 network of protected sites and the strict system of species protection. The directive protects over 1000 animals and plant species and over 200 "habitat types" (e.g. special types of forests, meadows, wetlands, etc.), which are of European importance.

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) bring the requirements of these Directives into national law.

Section 6 of the Environment Act (Wales) places a duty on public authorities to ‘seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity’ so far as it is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions. In so doing, public authorities must also seek to ‘promote the resilience of ecosystems’. The duty replaces the section 40 duty in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC Act 2006), in relation to Wales, and applies to those authorities that fell within the previous duty.

Public authorities will be required to report on the actions they are taking to improve biodiversity and promote ecosystem resilience.

The current guidance for the Section 6 duty can be accessed here

Section 7 - Biodiversity lists and duty to take steps to maintain and enhance biodiversity
This section replaces the duty in section 42 of the NERC Act 2006. The Welsh Ministers will publish, review and revise lists of living organisms and types of habitat in Wales, which they consider are of key significance to sustain and improve biodiversity in relation to Wales.

The Welsh Ministers must also take all reasonable steps to maintain and enhance the living organisms and types of habitat included in any list published under this section, and encourage others to take such steps.

Part 1 of the Act, including Sections 6 and 7, came into force on May 21, 2016.

Section 7 lists

  1. Section 7 Priority species (pdf)

A list of the living organisms of principal importance for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in relation to Wales.

  1. Section 7 Priority habitats (pdf)

A list of the habitats of principal importance for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in relation to Wales.

  1. The Environment (Wales) Act Part 1 Interim Guidance
  2. Defra NERC Duty Guidance for Public Authorities
  3. Celebrating Success: Collaborative action for nature in Wales

Environment (Wales) Act 2016

The European Union Wild Birds Directive and Habitats Directive establish a legislative framework for protecting and conserving Europe's wildlife and habitats.

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) bring the requirements of these Directives into national law.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) makes it an offence (subject to exceptions) to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild animal listed on Schedule 5, and prohibits interference with places used for shelter or protection, or intentionally disturbing animals occupying such places. The Act also prohibits certain methods of killing, injuring, or taking wild animals.

At the centre of European Union nature policy is the creation of a coherent ecological network of protected areas across the EU. This is known as the Natura 2000 network. These protected areas are for habitats and species considered to be of outstanding international significance. Their purpose is to maintain or restore the habitats and species at a ‘favourable conservation status’ in their natural range. The network comprises:

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) - classified to protect rare and vulnerable birds and regularly occurring migratory species

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) - designated for their important contribution to the conservation of natural habitats and species of the plants and animals they support.

In addition, some species of plants and animals are given additional protection. These are known as ‘European Protected Species’

Wales has 21 Special Protection Areas for vulnerable birds and 92 Special Areas of Conservation for other rare species and threatened natural habitats. Together they constitute the Natura 2000 network in Wales.

Species protection under the Habitats Directive

Over 1000 animal and plant species, as well as 200 habitat types, listed in the directive's annexes are protected in various ways:

  • Annex II species (about 900): core areas of their habitat are designated as sites of Community importance (SCIs) and included in the Natura 2000 network. These sites must be managed in accordance with the ecological needs of the species.
  • Annex IV species (over 400, including many annex II species): a strict protection regime must be applied across their entire natural range within the EU, both within and outside Natura 2000 sites.
  • Annex V species (over 90): Member States must ensure that their exploitation and taking in the wild is compatible with maintaining them in a favourable conservation status.

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 make it an offence to deliberately kill, injure, capture or disturb the European Protected Species (EPS), listed in Annex IV of of the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora Directive.

Ramsar Convention

The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The convention entered into force in the United Kingdom on 5 May 1976. The United Kingdom currently has 174 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) and 10 of these sites are in Wales (this figure includes 3 cross-border sites).

Environment Act (Wales) 2016

Section 6 of the Environment Act places a duty on public authorities to ‘seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity’ so far as it is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions. In so doing, public authorities must also seek to ‘promote the resilience of ecosystems’.

Section 7 of the Environment Act requires The Welsh Ministers to publish, review and revise lists of living organisms and types of habitat in Wales, which they consider are of key significance to sustain and improve biodiversity in relation to Wales. This is known as the S7 list.

Links

  1. Habitats Directive
  2. Birds Directive
  3. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017
  4. Wildlife and Countryside Act
  5. Ramsar Convention
  6. Environment (Wales) Act
  7. Section 7 Lists

Planning Policy Wales delivers land use planning policy for Wales and provides a framework for the effective preparation of local planning authorities’ development plans. This is supplemented by 21 topic based Technical Advice Notes (TANs). Technical Advice Note 5- Nature Conservation and Planning is a key TAN in relation to nature conservation and biodiversity.

Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation are an important element in many local authority planning regimes and cover significant areas of biodiversity priority habitats and species. Designation is based on objective scientific criteria that accord with the Wales wide guidelines. Identified sites are typically shown on the local development plan proposals map or constraints map.

Links

  1. Planning Policy Wales
  2. TAN5
  3. Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation Wales Guidance (pdf)

Wildlife crime appears in many guises, but can be broadly categorised into three main types; crimes involving native species which are endangered or of conservation concern; cruelty to and the persecution of wildlife species; the illegal trade in endangered species. The Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW) leads on UK Wildlife crime detection and reporting. In terms of priorities, there are UK wildlife crime priorities and Wales-specific wildlife crime priorities.

A review of Wildlife Crime in Wales was carried out and made a number of recommendations including the establishment of a Wildlife Crime Enforcement Group.

Reporting Wildlife Crime

If the call is of an urgent nature and requires an immediate police response phone 999.

For all other incidents of wildlife crime call 101 and report the crime as a wildlife crime incident to the operator.

Wildlife Crime Enforcement Group

An enforcement working group is now established charged with ensuring interoperability through production of a Welsh wildlife crime strategy; developing codes of practice and data sharing agreements; progressing UK and Welsh wildlife crime priorities; and delivery of a biannual wildlife crime conference.

UK Wildlife Crime Links

  1. National Wildlife Crime Unit
  2. UK Wildlife Crime Tactical Assessment (pdf)
  3. UK Wildlife Crime Priorities (pdf)
  4. Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAWS)
  5. Wildlife Crime Cases

Species in Wales

Amphibians & Reptiles

Birds

Lichens

Terrestrial Mammals

Bryophytes

Invertebrates

Helping Wildlife

Wildlife Gardening