The Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981

T

his is still the major legal instrument for wildlife protection in Britain, although other significant acts have been passed since. It has numerous parts and supplementary lists and schedules many of which have been amended since publication. The following selection is not complete. Warning: do not buy a copy of the whole act and expect it to be either up to date, intelligible or affordable! We did this, rashly, so you don't have to. If you can't find what you need below, it might be best to get a recent book on the subject, or seek specialist advice.

Overview of the ActPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet: includes description of sections and list of schedules
Wild Birds and the LawPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet: a comprehensive guide to the provisions of the Wildlife & Countryside Act as applied to wild birds. Includes schedules, and updated Schedule 4(1994).
Sites of Special Scientific InterestPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet
Protection of Plants, including BryophytesPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet
Protection of Reptiles and AmphibiansPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet
Protection of Other AnimalsPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet
Schedules of the ActPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet: kept updated to the current position (as far as Naturenet is aware).

The full original text of the Act

By following the link below, it is possible to download a scanned copy of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as at the time when it received Royal Assent. The Act remains one of the most important pieces of wildlife legislation in Great Britain, but it is important to be aware that this document does not represent the Act as it currently stands.

Adder

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 2000Pages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet (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 many changes to the species listed in the schedulesPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet, through Variations to the Schedules Orders. There is a statutory five-yearly review of Schedules 5 and 8 (protected wild animals and plant respectively), undertaken by the statutory conservation agencies and coordinated through JNCC, but changes to the Schedules can 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. (from the JNCC website)

Download Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Other links

UNEP-WCMC Species Database of threatened animals (worldwide): a very good and seemingly complete list of all recognised endangered species in the world, searchable by name and location. Includes all species on the schedules of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, plus all other similar legal protection in other countries.