Unsustainable farming and forestry, pollution and urban sprawl are blamed for a drastic decline in Europe’s biodiversity, which threatens the survival of thousands of animal species and habitats, according to a new report by the European Union.
Though members countries have made some efforts in making some improvements, biodiversity in the Union still continued to decline, said the European Environment Agency’s report ‘State of nature in the EU’. The biodiversity faced climate change, deteriorating trends from changes in land and sea use, unsustainable management practices, overexploitation, water regime modification, invasive alien species and pollution, the EEA said.
The report also mentioned that European Union member countries still lacked in implementing nature directives and other environmental laws. Most of the protected habitats and species are not in good conservation status, the report said. Much more is need to be done to reverse the situation, it added. .
EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said “Our assessment shows that safeguarding the health and resilience of Europe’s nature, and people’s well-being, requires fundamental changes to the way we produce and consume food, manage and use forests, and build cities. These efforts need to be coupled with better implementation and enforcement of conservation policies, a focus on nature restoration, as well as increasingly ambitious climate action, especially in the transport and energy sector.”
The report also showcases positive developments in conservation efforts. It said that t5eh area and number of sites protected under Natura 2000 network have increased over the last six years. Moreover, the EU met the global targets with around 18 per cent of its land area and nearly ten per cent of marine area protected. The EEA report points out that the overall progress was not enough to achieve the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Most protected habitats and species have either a poor or a bad conservation status and many of them continue to decline, according to the EEA assessment. Of the three main groups studied, habitats and birds lag particularly far behind while the group of non-bird species nearly met its target,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said that the study clearly showed that they were still losing vital life support system. “As much as 81 per cent of habitats at EU level are in poor condition, with peat lands, grasslands and dune habitats deteriorating the most. We urgently need to deliver on the commitments in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy to reverse this decline for the benefit of nature, people, climate and the economy,” Sinkevičius said.
- Urban sprawl, intensive agriculture and unsustainable forestry activities
- Pollution of water, air and soil impacts habitats
- Over exploitation of animals through illegal harvesting and untenable hunting and fishing.
- Alterations to rivers and lakes, such as dams and water abstraction
- Invasive alien species
- Climate change.
- Climate change is rising threat, especially due to droughts and lower precipitation
- Near half of the bird species have a ‘good’ population status, but farmland birds show least improving trends
- Illegal killing and hunting are the biggest overall pressures for migratory birds
- Habitats important for pollinators have a worse conservation status and trends than other habitats
- Agricultural activities (and abandonment) and urbanisation are the major pressures for habitats and species, followed by pollution
- Only 14 % of habitats assessments and 27 % of non-bird species have a ‘good’ conservation status
- Forests show most improving trends and grasslands, dunes and bogs the most deteriorating trends