As set out above, international agreements and directives are normally implemented through domestic legislation. In addition, there is typically a second tier of legislation which is concerned with the need to protect sites and species at the national and local level.
In the UK, wildlife legislation was once more centralised such that a single piece of legislation applied to England, Wales and Scotland. Since devolution (the process by which the smaller countries assume more responsibility for their government) began, wildlife legislation has become increasingly decentralised, with more being drafted separately by the devolved administrations. Devolution is happening at different rates for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which further complicates the legislative landscape. Despite this, the actual protection afforded to sites, habitats and species remains reasonably consistent throughout the UK. Ireland also has its own legislative framework. But, again, the actual protection afforded to wildlife is similar to that in the UK.
The following tables list the most significant pieces of legislation relating to wildlife and nature conservation that apply in:
The legislation listed in each table is that derived from international directives as well as that generated at the national level.
European Community Directives
European Community Directives: Selected highlights
National Wildlife Law
Report of the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives Implementation Review and progress report