Under the regime of the Wild Birds Directive (WBD) as well as the Habitats Directive (HD), special areas for protection shall be designated. But what happens if the natural functions in these areas decrease to such an extent that they are not anymore of the ecological value they have been protected for?
Art. 9 s.2 of the HD allows declassifying protected areas “where this is warranted by natural developments”. The definition of “natural developments” can be found by contrasting the clause to Art. 6(4) HD. All changes in the quality of the area should be included which are due to ecological effects and whose causes cannot be hindered by the competent Member State alone.
The indispensable protection against declassifying areas which still require protection results out of the additional condition “where this is warranted”. Due to the protection and restoration obligations for Member States under the Directive, a declassification can only be the very last step after intensive attempts to protect or even recreate the area.
Under the WBD, no explicit provision for declassifications exists. With allowing them as an actus contrarius to Art. 4(1) WBD, a similar system for declassifications like under the HD is established.European Energy and Environmental Law Review