Students from Madras College, St Andrews cutting the first sod for the new pavilion at Tentsmuir NNR. ©SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

The Birds Directive

The protection extended to all wild birds in Scotland originates from the Birds Directive, an important piece of European legislation.

The Birds Directive is the short name for Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the conservation of wild birds.

The 2009 Directive is the ‘codified’ (consolidated) version of Council Directive 79/409/EEC. This was the original legislation that was enacted in 1979. It was then amended many times before the current version came into force.

The current Birds Directive:

  • is part of EU nature legislation
  • protects all wild birds, and their nests, eggs and habitats, within the European Community
  • requires the classification of Special Protection Areas for species featured on its Annex I and regularly occurring migratory species

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 was enacted to implement the Birds Directive (and also the Bern Convention) in Great Britain.

Therefore, all wild birds in Great Britain are protected today under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

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