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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

A Legal-Ecological Understanding of Favorable Conservation Status for Species in Europe

Epstein, Yaffa; López-Bao, José Vicente; Chapron, Guillaume


Legislation for the preservation of biodiversity has been instrumental to the recovery of multiple species and habitats. The European Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC is one of the strongest legal tools in nature conservation. This Directive seeks to achieve its biodiversity goals by requiring EU Member States to take measures to reach or maintain favorable conservation status (FCS) of natural habitats and species in Europe. FCS is a legal concept, but must be understood and applied by scientists, managers, and policy makers, and therefore a proper interpretation of this concept is crucial for biodiversity conservation and wildlife management. However, its definition contains several aspects that can lead to misinterpretation, forming the core of controversies in determining whether or not populations have reached FCS. In this review, we provide legal and ecological clarifications of the most contested aspects of FCS that have not yet been conclusively settled by analyzing and weighing a variety of sources.


Environmental law; favorable conservation status; FCS; habitats directive; recovery

Published in

Conservation Letters
2016, volume: 9, number: 2, pages: 81-88

Authors' information

Epstein, Yaffa
Uppsala University
López-Bao, José Vicente
University of Oviedo
López-Bao, José Vicente
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

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