Conservation management is an important part of Gibraltar's responsibilities. Centred on the Nature Protection Act 1991, this piece of substantial legislation protects particular species of plants and animals inhabiting the rock including those that are threatened. The Nature Protection Act also includes provisions to protect and conserve some of Gibraltar's unique habitats such as the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and Windmill Hill Flats. Up to 31% of Gibraltar's land areas have been protected at EU, and local level, and it is thus Government's intention to ensure that these sites are adequately managed. The Southern Waters of Gibraltar were approved as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) in July 2006 following Commission Decision 2006/613/EC. A protection regime has been in existence since 1991 through the Nature Protection Act 1991
Following its approval as an SCI, HM Government of Gibraltar declared the Southern Waters of Gibraltar as a dual Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Area (SPA) through the following legislative instruments:
- Designation of Special Area of Conservation (Southern Waters of Gibraltar) Order 2012
- Designation of Special Protected Areas Order 2011.
The Government's objective in relation to conservation and wildlife in Gibraltar is therefore:
- To protect and where necessary restore the structure and functioning of natural ecosystems, and
- Stop the loss of biodiversity in our terrestrial and marine habitats.