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Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 1981


Provided here is the original version of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which received royal assent on 30 October 1981.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 consolidates and amends existing national legislation to implement the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) and Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds (Birds Directive) in Great Britain (note: Council Directive 79/409/EEC was replaced by Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds (codified version)). Equivalent provisions for Northern Ireland are contained within the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Please note, since the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, there have been various amendments to the text of the Act, most significantly through the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 (in England and Wales) and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (in Scotland), but also through other legislation including the Local Government Act 1985, the Water Act 1989, and the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (this is not a complete list of amending legislation).

There have also been changes to the species listed in the schedules, through Variations to the Schedules Orders. A statutory five-yearly (quinquennial) review of Schedules 5 and 8 (protected wild animals and plant respectively) is undertaken by the country nature conservation agencies and co-ordinated through JNCC, but changes to the Schedules can also be made by the Secretary of State at any time if it is considered necessary because of a threat of extinction or in response to international obligations. A periodic review of schedule 9 (relating to non-native species) is also undertaken.

The most up-to-date version of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is available on the website.

Resource type Publication

Topic category Environment

Reference date 1981··

This version of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) is the original version, which received royal assent in 1981, and does not represent the Act as it currently stands.

Responsible organisation
Communications, JNCC resourceProvider

Limitations on public access No limitations

Use constraints Available under the Open Government Licence 3.0

Metadata date 2020·04·16

Metadata point of contact
Communications, JNCC

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