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Species protection

In a nutshell

Europe has a rich diversity of wild plant and animal species many of which are unique to this continent and exist nowhere else in the world. We aim to protect all species facing particular threats in Europe and work with CITES to ensure that wildlife trade is sustainable and fight illegal wildlife trade across the world.

In practice

Our wildlife species are increasingly in danger. A recent European assessment of the conservation status of around 6000 European species undertaken by IUCN revealed that up to 25% of European animal species are now threatened with extinction.

The EU Habitats and Birds Directives require Member States to ensure both the physical protection of individual specimens across the 27 EU countries as well as the conservation of core breeding and resting sites for certain particularly rare and threatened species under the Natura 2000 network. The EU also sets rules regarding animal welfare and works with the international community to fight illegal wildlife trade across the world.

Species protection under the Birds Directive

Discover which bird species are protected by EU law, why and how

Species protection under the Habitats Directive

Find out what is done to ensure the survival of Europe’s most endangered and vulnerable animal and plant species

Wildlife trade

The CITES convention aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.


Find out what the EU does to mitigate the decline of pollinating insects.

For more information

We also have laws to set humane trapping standards and to ban the trade in seal products across the EU.

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