Poaching of endangered wildlife species is prohibited by different international conventions and by EU legal instruments such as the Birds and Habitats directives. However, their national implementation is usually poorly monitored, with crimes not sufficiently investigated and prosecuted or convictions secured. In addition, while the EU has a comprehensive regulatory framework on the illegal wildlife trade, its enforcement a national responsibility varies from country to country. Inadequate levels of compliance assurance, particularlywith regard to effective sanctioning, make wildlife crime attractive to organised groups as the likelihood of detection and prosecution is low and the profit margins are often high. As a result, poaching for food (song birds) and high economic gain (sturgeon caviar), control of predators/pests and retaliation (wolves and otters), illegal killing for sport and illegal collection of eggs or pets continue. This is why environmental crime has become a priority for 2018-2021 in the EU's fight against serious international and organised crime.
LIFE SWiPEs overall objective is to discourage, and ultimately reduce, wildlife crime by improving compliance with EU environmental law and increasing the number of offences successfully prosecuted. The projects activities will boost the awareness and capacity of prosecutors and selected law enforcement authorities to provide effective environmental compliance assurance, enhance cross-border knowledge exchange, and increase cooperation between investigative agencies.
This will be achieved through the following specific objectives: By 2023, a robust and reliable evidence base on European wildlife crime in 11 target countries to create acritical improvement in access to information, enabling comparison of data across Europe;By 2023, significantly increased awareness, knowledge and capacity of 300 wildlife crime professionals (prosecutors and experts from enforcement agencies) in 11 target countries, underpinned by a supportive policy environment and resulting in better national and cross-border governance in relation to investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime; andEfficient communication of project actions and outputs, promoting engagement of 10 million European citizens and key target technical audiences, supporting pan-European replication.
Expected results: Increase in the number (at least 25%) of wildlife crime cases that are investigated and reported proceeding to trial due to improved expertise, as well as better interagency and cross-border cooperation of responsible authorities;Commitment to strategic cooperation reaffirmed by at least 50 European actors in the wildlife crime prosecution chain, including prosecutors, enforcement agencies and NGOs representing 11 focal countries; Intelligence on wildlife crime gathered from 11 countries and analysed in a participatory manner, delivering facts on the number and type of investigations and prosecutions, reasons for non-prosecution and gaps in current practices, in order to establish a baseline and inform policy advocacy;An effective Europe-wide internet-based information portal set up, facilitating the sharing of information, visited annually by more than 1 000 representatives of investigation and prosecution agencies and other wildlife crime specialists, and whose maintenance is ensured for at least five years after the projects end;600 experts trained, providing 300 prosecutors and representatives of enforcement agencies in 11 countries with significantly increased levels of knowledge and understanding of the impact of wildlife crime on populations of protected species, the links to other criminal activities, and ways of successfully fighting it; andA total of 10 million citizens reached and 25 exemplary cases of verdicts communicated to the general public in order to change the sense of impunity and low risk around wildlife crime.