An understanding of the legislative framework for the protection of the UK’s wildlife and habitats is useful particularly in relation to the the planning process and gives context to biodiversity conservation initiatives.
Compliance with the following European directives is required as a minimum requirement: the Habitats Directive – Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and the Wild Birds Directive - Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds.
The Habitats Directive together with the Birds Directive forms the cornerstone of Europe's nature conservation policy. It is built around two pillars: the Natura 2000 network of protected sites and the strict system of species protection. The directive protects over 1000 animals and plant species and over 200 "habitat types" (e.g. special types of forests, meadows, wetlands, etc.), which are of European importance.