UK Wildlife Law: an Introduction 100 Hours Certificate Course
Is there a set start date and timeline (other than the 100 hours stated in the course details) for the UK Wildlife Law course? Thanks Ben
Thank you for your question. You can start the course at any time and work at your own pace, until you have completed it. The 100 hours given is for guideline purposes only. We hope this helps.
Hi Do you have a course description for the course "UK Wildlife Law" which appears on your website - unfortunately there is no course description on the website. Kind regards, Kieran.
Hi Kieran, this is because this course is currently under development, it will be available at the start of august.
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UK Wildlife Law: an Introduction 100 Hours Certificate Course
There’s a real interest among those in Britain who work with wild life, either professionally or voluntarily, for a better understanding of the myriad laws in the country that govern the interaction between man and his environment on these Islands.
That’s why ADL is proud to announce a new short course “UK Wildlife Law: An Introduction”.
By popular demand, this course is the ideal introduction for anyone involved in the British countryside and the huge variety of wildlife that calls it home. Great for farmers, conservationist and other roles, the goal of this course is to equip the student with a firm understanding of the essential wildlife law that they may need to be aware of.
Global Decision, Local Consequences
Across the world, Wildlife Law has generally followed four key themes that have worked their way into the statute books of countries across the world, and the UK is no different. These being the control of pests, the exploitation of animals, animal welfare and environmental conservation.
The course begins with an introduction to the international wildlife treaties to which the UK is a signatory and obliged to abide by. For example, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling is a huge international treaty best known for banning Whale hunting with a few notable exceptions. But it wasn’t until 1986, to protect dwindling whale numbers, that the moratorium we know today came into force.
From the global level, the course moves onto the EU level, where many modern laws and directives regarding change in modern Britain originate (and wildlife legislation is no different). From here, the course reaches the national level focusing on UK specific laws that govern the interaction with wildlife and how it practically impacts on life in Britain today.
Why Wildlife Law matters
In Britain, the native environment and species of the island country remain a national treasure even today. Despite the industrial revolution of centuries ago, the country remains a country with a unique ecosystem that’s worth protecting . And even for those who may not care themselves, the relevant laws in force must still be abided by.
If you work with the countryside, in conservation or are simply looking to add an extension to your house, it’s valuable to have an understanding of how the presence of wildlife on the land can impact your plans and how you must work around it.
Lesson Structure: UK Wildlife Law
- Introduction - Why are Wildlife Laws Made?
- International Treaty laws
- The international Conventions for the regulation of Whaling (1946)
- The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (1971)
- The Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1973)
- The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1979)
- The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979)
- The EU Directives
- The Birds Directive (2009/147/EC)
- The Habitat Directive (92/43/EEC)
- Natural Law
- The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)
- The Basic Protection
- Additional Protection
- Scheduled Species
- Species with Extra Protection
- Game Species and Pests
- Bird-Keeping and Selling
- Species which cannot be released
- The Conservation of Habitats and Species regulations (2010)
- European Protected Species
- Additional Protect
- The two main National Laws vs the Minor National Wildlife Laws
- The Pest Act (1954)
- The Spring Traps Approval Orders (2011-2)
- The 19th Century Games Act and Poaching Act
- The Dear Act (1991)
- The Conservation of Seals Act (1970) and the marine Scotland Act (2010)
- The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act (1975)
- The Hunting Act (2004) and the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act (2002)
- The Protection of Animals Act 1911
- Animal Welfare Act (2006)
- The Wild Mammals Protection Act (1996)
- The Protection of Badgers Act, (1992)
- Local authorities and enforcement licenses
- Is the license system biased
- Pest Control to prevent damage to property
- Promoting sustainable use
- Protecting biodiversity
- Wildlife law as a compromise
Aims of the Course: What you will do
- Discuss the context and history of wildlife law world-wide.
- List a few of the accomplishments of wildlife law over the last century.
- Explain at least three major international treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified.
- Describe the EU Birds Directive and the EU Habitats Directive.
- Explain why these laws are important in the UK.
- Find the protection status of any rare European wildlife species.
- Describe the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010).
- Explain the importance of these laws
- Quickly find out whether a species is scheduled, and if so, what protection it has been given.
- Identify when a scenario is likely to be covered by a minor national law.
- Describe additional legislation covering game and pest species, seals, deer, badgers and freshwater fish.
- Put your understanding of the laws in context
- Identify who is responsible for enforcing the laws, and who has the power to grant licenses to break them.
- Evaluate how well the laws are working, and contribute to debates about their future.
Why are Wildlife Laws Made?
Throughout this module we will study all of the major legislation which affects UK wildlife. This lesson in particular focuses on the major international wildlife law the UK has ratified. Before we can look at these however, we need to have some background. Why do we make laws about wildlife?
The Law Commission1 has identified four major themes in UK Wildlife law. The two oldest reasons for making laws treat wildlife as an economic asset which needs to be exploited or protected from exploitation for the interests of the wealthy ruling class:
To control pest species.
For example, early historians like Raphael Holinshed claimed that King Egbert of England demanded a tribute of 300 wolf skins each year from the Welsh borders to help eradicate the animals. Whether this claim is true or not, landowners were often required to eliminate wolves wherever they could be found, and laws like this probably led to the extinction of wolves in the United Kingdom.
This kind of law would not be passed today, but the United Kingdom still classes some species as pests. In Lesson 4 we will look at the English Pests Act (1954) which is seldom enforced but technically requires every landowner to ‘control’ (exterminate) rabbits on their land.
To encourage sustainable exploitation.
You probably know that swans belong to the crown in the United Kingdom. They, along with beached ‘royal fish’ (whales, dolphins, porpoises, sturgeon and sharks), have been protected since the medieval period. The birds are so fearless that if they were not protected they might have all been eaten. By giving the birds crown protection, the birds were left alone and could be protected for the consumption of the ruling class alone in perpetuity
This is also why today deer, seal (in some parts of the country), salmon and trout are all given closed seasons when they are protected from capture. More recently, laws have been made which value wildlife for non-economic reasons.
For animal-welfare reasons.
3. In the United Kingdom in particular, several laws have been prompted by charities and individuals wanting to make sure animals are treated kindly. Wild Mammals are especially protected in the UK under the Wild Mammals (protection) Act (1996). Hunting with dogs was made illegal in the United Kingdom by the Hunting Act (2004). We will look at this legislation in Lesson 4.
To some extent, these reasons for protection can contradict each other. Although some species damage human economic interests and therefore should be controlled, they should not be mistreated for animal-welfare reasons. Sometimes, in order to conserve one threatened species, others must be controlled (exterminated). For example, in Britain, the common grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) must be controlled (exterminated) in some areas to conserve the declining red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).
The important thing to remember here is that Wildlife Law offers a compromise between the interests of every group which deals with wildlife. No single group of people
is completely happy with the law, but every group can use it.
International Treaty Laws: Introduction
Although this module looks mainly at wildlife law in the United Kingdom, we can’t just focus on laws made in this country. The United Kingdom has ratified (signed and made official) several international treaty-laws which affect people living in this country. There are a few reasons that the United Kingdom does this:
Animals and birds often do not obey national borders. In order to protect them we need international laws.
Wildlife crime is now an international problem. For example, parts of certain animals like tigers, elephants and rhinos are killed in their home countries in order that they can be sold far away. The United Kingdom needs to have laws making this illegal in order to help protect these species, even though they are not native.
Uniformity helps make wildlife law fairer and easier. If every country had different laws it would make protecting wildlife very difficult. In addition, wildlife laws always involve a concession of rights, so they can sometimes actually hurt a country’s economy and culture. If laws are international and uniform, the idea is that the countries with the richest biodiversity are not unfairly affected. In practice this is not always the case.
The rest of Lesson 1 will look at the major international wildlife laws which have been ratified by the United Kingdom.
The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (1946)
The first treaty-law we will look at has been a major success story. It is usually referred to simply as the Whaling Convention (1946) and it was written in a major crisis period. At the time, large whales were becoming very rare globally due to the over-exploitation of commercial whalers (whale-catchers). Whaling had moved from ocean to ocean and from species to species, finding a new site or species when older ones had become depleted. The effects of that are still being seen today. The earliest targeted species of whale, the right whale (Eubalena glacialis) and the grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) remain extinct in the East Atlantic (around Europe) although the right whale is occasionally seen in the West Atlantic. The treaty recognised that the industry was destined to collapse, and aimed to make the whaling industry sustainable, so that whaling could continue to be carried out by future generations.
The treaty is defined by a series of Articles. After defining a series of key terms, the treaty:
Article 3 & 4: Creates the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to research whales.
Article 5 & 6: Gives the IWC the power to regulate whaling and give recommendations to countries.
Article 7: Requires governments to provide information to the IWC.
Article 8: Allows countries to take whales for scientific research;
Article 9: Requires countries to enforce the treaty, and expressly forbade whale-catching scientists from being paid extra.
The IWC is responsible for enforcing closed-seasons, commercial catch limits and permitted catch methods in a Schedule for the Treaty.
In 1985 (in Antarctica) and 1986 everywhere else, the quota for commercial whaling each year was voluntarily set to 0 by the IWC. This was called the ‘Moratorium on Whaling’.
The Commission felt that any commercial whaling at all would be dangerous for species stocks. Three countries lodged “reservations” about this quota.
At time of writing (2015) the quota remains at 0 for all species covered (baleen and toothed whales). It does not cover dolphins or porpoises.
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (1971)
This convention is usually referred to as Ramsar (1971) after the town in Iran where the treaty was signed. It was prompted by the continued drainage of wetland areas which was taking place to allow agricultural and industrial development of land. The loss of this habitat was significantly affecting populations of waterbirds and so the treaty aimed to protect important habitats.
A site should be nominated as a Ramsar Wetland if it (1) contains a rare habitat site; (2) contains vulnerable or endangered species, supports species important for biodiversity or supports plant or animal species at a critical stage of their life cycles; (3) regularly supports 20,000 waterbirds or 1% of a total species or subspecies of wetland-dependant species (not just birds) or (4) contains internationally important stocks of indigenous fish species or subspecies. Sites beneath these levels may still be eligible, but all above this level should be nominated.
The treaty required each party country to:
Article 2: Identify important wetlands.
Article 3: work towards their “wise” (sustainable and informed) use and co-operate to conserve wetlands and species.
Article 4: establish nature reserves on wetlands for research and conservation, provide for their wardening, and compensate any sites lost.
Article 5-7: confer with others about plans in an expert conference every three years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is currently the bureau in charge of administrating this convention.
As of 2015, the United Kingdom has nominated 168 Ramsar sites, and made them all Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSIs), or Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in Northern Ireland.
1 Law Commission (2012) Wildlife Law: A Consultation Paper. Consultation Papers 206. Crown Copyright. pp.2-3.
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