Case Studies

Posted: 15 September 2020

Using legal tools to protect biodiversity in Europe

  • Programme:

    Protecting endangered nature

  • Focus area:


  • Grantee:


  • Project:

    Protecting biodiversity in Europe

  • Grants awarded:


  • Years:


Although Europe has a well-established regulatory framework and legal basis for wildlife protection, this is frequently undermined by poor implementation and conflicting political interests. ClientEarth’s lawyers and environmental experts use legal interventions to protect nature. They work to enforce existing environment protection laws in the EU and hold accountable those who don’t comply with them, including governments and private companies. It does this through strategic litigation, political advocacy and campaigns to promote public participation in decision-making, often in partnership with local NGOs.

We support ClientEarth’s focus on wildlife and habitats in Europe, particularly in biodiverse Eastern Europe, southern European wetlands and in the Balkans. Our grants have supported ClientEarth to expand its activities and address key threats to marine mammals across the Mediterranean, challenge plans for a motorway through Bulgaria’s Kresna Gorge, and help create new protected areas on land and sea.

In recent years, one of ClientEarth’s priorities has been protecting wildlife and habitats in Poland, particularly in the Białowieża Forest. This vast woodland is a UNESCO World Heritage site, covering over 140,000 hectares. Białowieża is home to the largest free-roaming population of European Bison (Bison bonasus) and other vulnerable species. When the Polish government decided to increase logging in the forest, ClientEarth intervened and urged the European Commission to investigate. As a result, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the logging violates EU law and ordered the Polish government to reverse its decision immediately. ClientEarth is still combating the government’s plans to re-instate logging in the forest, and, along with others, is calling to make the whole forest a national park.

The Białowieża Forest
The Białowieża Forest is of exceptional biodiversity conservation value, including primary broadleaved and coniferous forests and many types of fungi. Photo by Adam Wajrak, courtesy of ClientEarth.
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