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Recognising the environmental value of sustainable hunting

Question écrite de Mme Isabella TOVAGLIERI - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Isabella TOVAGLIERI,

Diffusée le 19 février 2024

Subject: Recognising the environmental value of sustainable hunting

Hunting, often confused with poaching and subject to attempts to have it restricted/banned, is a practice that can have a positive impact on the environment if it is carried out in keeping with the law and in a sustainable manner.

Hunters devote a lot of time and attention to the countryside and habitats, restoring and clearing paths, removing rubbish, and checking and cleaning ditches in often deserted, neglected areas.

Hunting also plays a key role in controlling animal populations: selective culling maintains ecological balances and prevents damage to habitats. It also helps protect habitats from invasive species by stopping them from spreading.

A study conducted by the association Nomisma estimated hunting’s environmental value to be EUR 8.5 billion per year1.

In view of the above:

1. Does the Commission not consider it appropriate to recognise the positive value of ethical and sustainable hunting, in view of Directive 92/43/EEC, which stipulates that the preservation, protection and improvement of the environment and the conservation of natural habitats are ‘an essential objective of general interest’?

2. Does it not agree that policies aimed at limiting or banning hunters’ activities can potentially be detrimental to environmental protection and habitat conservation?

Submitted:20.2.2024

1 https://www.nomisma.it/press-area/attivita-venatoria-italia-nomisma/

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 21 avril 2024

Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius on behalf of the European Commission (22 April 2024)

1. The Commission recognises the role of sustainable hunting (2), especially when it involves the conservation of habitats.

2. The Habitats (3) and the Birds (4) Directives seek to balance conservation efforts with human activities, including hunting. The directives include provisions (5), (6) for the regulation of hunting and the protection of vulnerable species, with the goal of ensuring the long-term viability of habitats and wildlife populations.

Certain restrictions under EU law are applicable to ensure sustainable hunting. The Habitat and the Birds Directives prohibit non-selective means capable of causing local disappearance of huntable wild fauna population (7), (8).

Under the Birds Directive (9), hunting of species listed in Annex II must comply with the principles of wise use and ecologically balanced control of the species concerned. Those species shall also not be hunted during the breeding season.

In the context of the Habitats Directive, hunting is limited to wild fauna species listed in Annex V (a) and Member States shall ensure that it is compatible with their being maintained at a favourable conservation status (10).

Such restrictions should not result in hunters giving up to their habitat conservation measures, when these are necessary for the recovery of the species. Member States may also establish temporary hunting restrictions on a case-by-case basis if they assess hunting activities as having a negative impact on some species’ population.

1 ∙ ⸱ https://www.nomisma.it/press-area/attivita-venatoria-italia-nomisma/

2 ∙ ⸱ Guidance Document on ‘Hunting under the Birds Directive’ https://environment.ec.europa.eu/topics/nature-and-biodiversity/birds-directive/sustainable-

hunting-under-birds-directive_en 3 ∙ ⸱

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7-50. 4 ∙ ⸱ Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds, OJ L 20, 26.1.2010, p. 7-25. 5 ∙ ⸱ Article 15 of the Habitats Directive. 6 ∙ ⸱

Article 8(1) of the Birds Directive. 7 ∙ ⸱

Article 15 of the Habitats Directive. 8 ∙ ⸱

Article 8(1) of the Birds Directive. 9 ∙ ⸱

Article 7 (4). 10 ∙ ⸱

Article 14(1) of the Habitats Directive.




















| | ) The use of lead gunshot in wetlands has also been banned in 2021 under the regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals as it leads to risks for the environment (11).

11 ∙ ⸱ Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/57 of 25 January 2021 amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the

Council concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards lead in gunshot in or around wetlands. | | ( | | )

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