Nature and biodiversity underpin life on Earth but are under increasing pressure from urban expansion, landscape fragmentation, agriculture, and forestry land use[1]. Ecosystems are in decline in the EU as well as globally, putting at risk the ‘services’ they provide us with – from clean air to flood protection. The EU Birds and Habitats Directives (together called the ‘Nature Directives’) protect threatened habitats and species in Europe. The EU’s Biodiversity Strategy goes further and aims to halt the ongoing loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe and supports the EU’s global commitments for biodiversity protection.

Milieu has in-depth knowledge of the Nature Directives and their implementation and we have provided EU institutions with legal support on biodiversity and natural resources. We prepared the Study for the European Commission’s Fitness Check of this legislation and an analysis of the implementation of the species protection rules under the Nature Directives and their integration into the agriculture and forestry policies. In other work, we have assessed the financial aspects of biodiversity conservation in the EU, including public investment funding options, and we have carried out analytical work on natural capital accounting. Moreover, we are working on a few forestry projects where nature-based solutions are at the core of their objectives (see section Forest on our website).

[1] European Environment Agency, 2019, The European environment — state and outlook 2020: knowledge for transition to a sustainable Europe, pp.115-131.

Better Implementation of the Zoos Directive, DG ENV

The Zoos Directive (1999/22/EC) seeks to strengthen the work of Europe’s zoos for biodiversity conservation, research and awareness-raising.

Under this project, Milieu and its partners are organising forums for the exchange of knowledge among Europe’s zoos as well as national authorities, providing training and promoting peer-to-peer learning among them.

Evaluation study to support the fitness check of the Birds and Habitats Directives, DG ENV

These two Directives, also called the Nature Directives, form the backbone of the EU’s legislation for nature conservation. They aim to ensure that threatened habitats and species in the EU are brought to favourable conservation status. They established the European Natura 2000 network of well managed conservation sites and require the adoption of strict systems of species protection.

Milieu led this major review of the two Directives to assess if they are still fit-for-purpose, carrying out extensive evidence data collection, desk research, and interviews. Milieu also developed an extensive stakeholder consultation process and an online survey which resulted in an EU-wide public consultation, national workshops and visits to 10 Member States for an in-depth review and a major policy conference. Our study identified Nature legislation’s key strengths and challenges and thus supported the European Commission in preparing its Fitness Check and in identifying recommendations to improve its implementation.

Species protection rules under the Birds and Habitats Directives: how effectively are they integrated into sectoral policies?, DG ENV

This project assessed the implementation of the species protection rules under the Birds and Habitats Directives and how effectively they are integrated into agriculture and forestry policies.

The Directives require the establishment of strict systems of species protection in EU Member States as a way to ensure that rare and threatened species are maintained in favourable conservation status. Milieu led this project aiming to assess the implementation of these rules by agriculture and forestry sectors with a particular focus in 12 EU Member States. A comparative analysis provided the grounds to identify gaps and best practices and to propose key recommendations to improve the awareness, knowledge and implementation of these rules.