September 19 – Day of Wild Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats

Dzień Dzikiej Flory, Fauny

In the ecological calendar, September 19 is celebrated as Wildlife, Fauna and Natural Habitats Day. This is an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of the drive to preserve biodiversity in Europe and the programs that support this goal.

Why exactly on September 19?

Exactly 44 years ago, on September 19, 1979, nineteen countries signed the Convention on the Conservation of Species of European Wildlife and Their Habitats. This document, commonly referred to as the Bern Convention, laid the foundation for the development of a whole series of plans and directives aimed at preserving the balance of nature on our continent.

In subsequent years, the number of signatories more than doubled. In 1995. Poland ratified it, and over the past three decades Belarus, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia have also signed the convention. The date of the initiation of the agreement has taken on symbolic significance and is remembered every year precisely as Wildlife, Fauna and Natural Habitats Day.

Main provisions of the Berne Convention

Already in the second half of the 20th century. It has become obvious that the environment is heading for certain disaster, the cause of which is mainly man’s predatory economy, and that it is necessary to implement pro-environmental policies. The Bern Convention was created to promote international cooperation in the protection of wild plants, animals and their habitats, which are, after all, independent of national borders. Wildlife, Fauna and Natural Habitats Day is one way of reminding us of our responsibilities.

The authors of the convention placed special emphasis on the protection of vulnerable and endangered species, including migratory fauna, for which special provisions were created. The document’s appendix included a constantly updated list of species under strict protection, as well as a register of prohibited methods of killing, capturing and exploiting sensitive flora and fauna.

Why do we need Wildlife, Fauna and Natural Habitats Day?

Does the annual reminder of the Bern Convention make sense? Unfortunately, in the 40 years since it was signed, the world has lost hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species. The biggest problem seems to be the ever-increasing fragmentation of ecosystems and the destruction of habitats, both terrestrial and aquatic. The situation is particularly dramatic in the context of grasslands, dunes, wetlands, marshes and quagmires.

Urban and industrial development is consuming more and more areas originally inhabited by native species. Add to this water, air and soil pollution, overexploitation of natural resources, climate change and the spread of alien, invasive species, and the situation in many areas of Europe and the world is threatened by a biological crisis.

The Day of Wild Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats is an excuse to discuss pro-environmental initiatives at the local, regional and international levels. They involve a wide range of actors, from educational institutions and the media to NGOs and public bodies. Their main goal is to deepen the awareness of the public and the business sphere so that future political and economic decisions favor the preservation of biodiversity.

Protection of wild species and their habitats in the EU

In Poland, according to the Integrated Education Platform, there are already more than 470 plant species, 530 animal species and 120 fungi species under protection. However, legal protection is not enough to stop the process of gradual extinction of the organisms. Concrete measures are needed, which in our country, as well as throughout the European Union, are being implemented within the framework of two key directives: the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. It is these two pieces of legislation that are most often cited on Wildlife, Fauna and Natural Habitats Day.

Implementation of both directives is carried out primarily on the basis of the Natura 2000 network of sites. In Poland, they already occupy 20 percent. of the country’s area and combine 864 habitat areas and 145 bird areas. The efforts of organizations at various levels are aimed at maintaining the numbers of individual populations, maintaining or restoring good natural habitats, and preserving the range of wild species.

In Poland, the Natura 2000 network includes, among others. agricultural areas, commercial forests, but also hydroelectric dams and reservoirs. Protection, therefore, does not mean blocking all investment activity, but requires careful assessment of possible impacts and risks. The Day of Wild Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats is an excellent opportunity to try to balance the interests and views of different social groups, so that in a few decades we can still admire the phenomenon of biological balance in ecosystems.

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