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EC guidance on species protection

Guidance on Articles 12 & 16 of the Habitats Directive

Articles 12 and 16 of the Habitats Directive aim to establish and implement a strict protection regime for the animal species listed in Annex IV(a) of the Habitats Directive, within the whole territory of Member States.

In October 2021, the Commission adopted a guidance document providing its understanding of the legal provisions under articles 12 and 16, reflecting the latest legal interpretations of the Court of Justice of the European Union and updating and replacing an earlier guidance from 2007. The process of updating this guidance included two broad consultations with Member States and stakeholders’ organisations.

In addition to legal interpretation and clarifications, the guidance includes information, advice and good practices to national authorities on how to address conflicts between strictly protected species and human activities, including in relation to the possible use of derogations and lethal control, within the legal framework of the strict protection provisions set by the Directive.

Annex III of the guidance concerns the wolf and provides specific examples of application of the above-mentioned rules, recalling the existing Commission initiatives and funding opportunities to support coexistence with human activities.

The protection of wild species in the EU

Habitats Directive species conservation through Rural Development Programmes

Financed by the European Commission, the Wildlife and Sustainable Farming Initiative (2007-2009) looked at how the conservation of certain species of wildlife protected under the Habitats and Birds Directives can be supported through the Rural Development Programmes (2007-2013).

The final report is in two parts: the first part looks at the opportunities offered by the CAP and RDP for wildlife conservation, particularly in relation to the provisions of the Habitats and Birds Directives. The second part contains a series of fact sheets for the 12 endangered animal species.

Each 8 page fact sheet provides key information about the species ecology, its threats and beneficial farming/forestry practices and highlights the dirrerent opportunities available for integrating the species conservation needs into the different measures of CAP (e.g. Pillar I and Pillar II) as illustrated by practical examples from different countries/regions.

Full report:

Individual Species fact sheets:

Conservation status of species under the Habitats Directive (Article 17 reports)

Member States are required under the Habitats Directive (Article 17) to monitor the conservation status of the habitat types and species covered by the Directive and to report their findings to the Commission every 6 years. The first so called Article 17 reports cover the period 2001-2006.

Reporting on derogations (Article 16)

Articlea.16 of the Habitats Directive identifies the conditions under which Member States can from the strict species protection provisions. Every two years Member States are required to report about these derogations to the European Commission.