Environmental groups say public’s right to nature is under threat

Environmental groups rally as Commission threatens nature laws

The public’s right to experience nature is under threat from a move by the European Commission to review some of the EU’s most successful nature laws (the Birds and Habitats Directives), Friends of the Earth said in a press release.

According to the statement, Friends of the Earth Malta and Birdlife Malta together with over 100 organisations across Europe have today launched a campaign to show the overwhelming public support for protecting nature.

“Europe's nature laws are recognised as some of the strongest in the world to protect animals, plant and habitats from extinction,” Martin Galea De Giovanni, Director of Friends of the Earth Malta said.

“Thanks to these laws, Europe now has the world's biggest network of protected areas, Natura 2000, covering about one fifth of Europe's land and 4% of its marine sites.  These laws also offer vital protection to more than 1,400 rare or threatened species of animals and plants by ensuring they are protected in these Natura 2000 sites and in the wider countryside.”

However, the statement continues to point out that EU policymakers, from European Commission President Juncker downwards, are threatening to weaken these laws, potentially giving big business more access to use nature sites for profit.

"We all have a right to nature – and chipping away at vital laws that help protect it would be a disaster for European citizens and the nature we love,” said Magda Stoczkiewicz, Director of Friends of the Earth Europe.

“We are mobilising people across the EU and will make our voices loud and clear – our nature is not up for grabs and we expect our politicians to protect it for all of us and for future generations,” she added.

The NGO added that the first stepping-stone towards weaker nature protection is a review of the existing laws by the EU – which European citizens are being invited to comment upon. The questions are open to the public, but difficult to find and complicated to answer for non-experts.

“To give the public a chance to say ‘no’ to plans to weaken our nature laws, Friends of the Earth Europe, Birdlife, WWF and the European Environmental Bureau have launched a simple website that citizens can use to easily answer the consultation with just a few clicks,” the statement reads.

The NGO urges everyone who believes in the right to enjoy and protect nature to have their say at www.naturealert.eu.

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