Rethinking European nature conservation legislation: towards sustainable development

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European nature conservation law with its habitats assessment as demanded by Article 6 of the 1992 Habitats Directive is recently being regarded as rigid, rather static and not fully updated with modern sustainability and climate change demands. As a consequence nature conservation law is said to be not always capable to facilitate sustainable development. A balancing of both ecology and socio-economic interests rather than a singular ecological criteria assessment might give way to sustainable combinations of land use in or nearby nature reserves. While previous authors call for updating and restructuring the Habitats Directive, this paper argues that the EU legislative framework, consisting of European treaty law with its environmental law principles as well as the wording of Article 6 itself, already offers adequate opportunities to re-interpret the EU nature conservation directives within the context of sustainable land use, thus giving way to a less dogmatic approach entirely in line with modern sustainable development demands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-84
JournalJournal for European Environmental & Planning Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • climate change
  • ecosystem services
  • habitats assessment
  • margin of appreciation
  • nature conservation
  • sustainable development


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