Hunting is an activity that provides significant social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits in different regions of the European Union. Recognising the legitimacy of the hunting of wild birds as a form of sustainable use, the Birds Directive aims to provide a framework for ensuring that this activity does not jeopardize the conservation efforts undertaken for certain species (listed in Annex II) in the EU.
A factsheet summarizing the provisions related to hunting in the Birds and Habitats Directives and enhancing the mutual benefits between Natura 2000 and hunting is now available:
To ensure the correct implementation of the Directive as regards hunting, the Commission has sought to foster greater dialogue and cooperation with different interest groups and, with their collaboration.
In 2001, the Commission launched an EU ‘Sustainable Hunting Initiative’ in order to help improve the understanding of the legal and technical aspects of the Directive’s provisions on hunting and to develop a programme of scientific, conservation and awareness raising measures to promote sustainable hunting in accordance with the Directive.
In 2004, the key partners of the Sustainable Hunting Initiative – BirdLife International and FACE (the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU) – reached an agreement on ten points which will enable hunting to continue within a well-regulated framework, whilst fully respecting the provisions of the Directive. The agreement was signed at a high profile event on the 12th October 2004 and marks the beginning of the end of more than a decade of emotive conflict.
Mr. Gilbert de Turckheim (President of FACE), Commissioner Wallström and Mr. Michael Rands (Director and Chief Executive of BirdLife International)
In 2007, the annual meeting of the Parties (Standing Committee) to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern, 1979), adopted the European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity. This charter is meant to reinforce the implementation and coherence of global and European biodiversity instruments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the European Community’s Birds and Habitats Directives, and is fully supportive of the EC’s Sustainable Hunting Initiative.
The "Birds Directive" allows for certain species listed in Annex II to be hunted provided this is done in a way that will not jeopardize the conservation efforts for the species. In this context, the Commission has supported the preparation of EU management plans for several huntable species which are considered to be in an unfavourable conservation state. These have been have been developed in close collaboration with key stakeholders, and have been approved by the national Delegates of the Member States in the ORNIS Committee and NGOs such as FACE, BirdLife International, OMPO and Wetland International
The plans should assist Member States in fulfilling their obligations under the Birds Directive. However, they are not legally binding documents nor do they engage the Member States beyond their existing legal commitments under this Directive.
Under a contract with the European Commission BirdLife International in collaboration with FACE carried out a study to take stock of the experience of preparation and implementation of Species Action Plans for Annex I bird species and Management plans for Annex II huntable species and make proposals for improvements of the process towards more effective implementation.
The study does not necessarily reflect the view of the European Commission.
In line with the commitments made by the 25 European Environment Ministers and the Commission in the 'El Teide Declaration', the Commission launched an awareness-raising programme on Natura 2000 - the Natura 2000 Networking Initiative, continued as the Natura 2000 Networking Programme. This programme aims to promote awareness and understanding of Natura 2000, partnerships involved in the conservation and management of Natura 2000 sites, the share of experience and good practice in managing the network, including for recreational and educational purposes.
Within this initiative, a dedicated awareness-raising programme on Natura 2000 among hunters was supported by the Commission. For more details see www.facenatura2000.net.
There is a need for high quality up to date information on the status and trends of the different bird species and in particular the huntable ones. Such information is central to determining the effect and impact hunting may have on the dynamics of populations of huntable species.
The Commission is supporting the setting up of an improved bag statistics in Europe. The overall objective is to ensure a common scheme for the collection of hunting bag statistics, along with their scientific interpretation and proper use. This initiative, which was formally launched in Athens on 3rd June 2006 is being developed by FACE in cooperation with BirdLife International, and several bodies such as the European Environment Agency.