Over half of Europe’s natural areas are only protected on paper due to widespread delays and defaults across member states, according to a new report by WWF. The study also shows clear benefits for threatened species and local economies where effective measures have been taken by both the European Commission and national authorities.

The European Commission recently confirmed that the EU Birds and Habitats Directives were Europe’s strongest conservation legislation and committed to further improve their effectiveness. WWF’s new report “Preventing paper parks: How to make the EU nature laws work” offers an overview of the main problems on the ground and effective solutions to put them right. More marine protected areas, effective measures and plans for all natural sites, increased investments and better monitoring and enforcement of legal obligations are identified as the right responses to ensure Europe’s nature is effectively protected and restored.

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Photo: Aquatic Warbler, Poland © Zymantas Morkvenas