Europe’s Biodiversity is under pressure

Parc naturel régional de Brière (FR) © Photo Jean Pierre Saliou

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With the start of the EU Green week, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) has published its rapport “State of Nature in EU”.

The European Environmental Agency’s report “State of Nature in EU” is a comprehensive “health check” of nature in the European Union. It reports on the status and trends in 2013 -2018 of species and habitat types protected by the Birds and Habitats Directives. EU member states are required to report every six years to gauge the state of nature in the EU.

The results of the past 5 years show that nature is under pressure and that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

The report demonstrated a continuing decline of protected habitats and species. This is mostly caused by intensive agriculture, urbanization, unsustainable forestry activities and changes to freshwater habitats. Pollution of air, water and soil also impacts habitats, as well as climate change, over-exploitation of animals through illegal harvesting and untenable hunting and fishing. Additionally, member states are not prioritizing nature protection enough. So, as our president Ignace Schops said with the publication of the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, it’s “high time to turn tide!“.

To make a lasting change, EEA Director Hans Bruyninckx says we need to drastically change the way we produce our food, manage our forests and build our cities. Additionally, we need to better execute nature protection, restoration and set more ambitious climate targets. EUROPARC knows that the answer lays within nature, and that protecting our valuable ecosystems is not only necessary, but also effective: improvement are recorded in bird populations in Natura 2000 areas.

Improvement of Natura 2000 areas

Although a decline is visible across almost all populations and habitats, some positive news can be found in the report as well. The amount and size of Natura 2000 areas has increased in the last six years, causing the EU to reach global targets. Currently 18% of the land and almost 10% of marine area is protected. However, we are still a long ways of the targets in the EU “Green Deal”, where the goals is to legally protect 30% of the land.

Time for action

The message is clear: if we continue along this path we will destroy valuable habitats and species. EUROPARC urges EU member states to priorities nature protection and restoration. We do not need more “paper parks”,

Europe needs well-managed Protected Areas as places where nature can thrive.

EUROPARC’s members are ready to be key players in reaching the EU targets on biodiversity, not just as “far away places”, but also in greening urban areas or by realizing sustainable agriculture practices. The European Commission wants to “bring nature back into our lives” – Europe’s Protected Areas, when supported politically and financially, are ready to deliver.

Want to find best practice examples of all that EUROPARC’s members are doing? Then have a look at our “Knowledge Hub