Green Week: Warning for European Biodiversity
31 May 2006
'Changing our behaviour - biodiversity loss' is the theme of Green Week 2006, and the event runs from 30 May to 2 June.
The EEA has taken the opportunity of Green Week to launch its latest report on biodiversity loss, 'Progress towards halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010.'
The condition of forests is improving and some freshwater species are returning, but Europe still has a long way to go in safeguarding its plant and animal species, according to the EEA report 'Progress towards halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010.' released today.
The report covers Europe's main ecosystems: farmland, forests, wetlands, mountains, marine and freshwater. It looks at policies affecting biodiversity and reviews progress towards the 2010 target of halting the loss of biodiversity in the EU.
Considerable progress is being made for forest ecosystems, and, to a lesser extent, freshwater and wetlands. Water quality in many of Europe's rivers is improving. As a result, some species, such as the common otter and the salmon, are returning to their former habitats in England, Scotland, Denmark and Latvia, the report says.
However, farmland habitats, mountain regions and marine ecosystems are not doing as well. Farmland biodiversity has declined seriously in the past decades, and there are few signs of recovery. Bird numbers, for example, have plummeted by a third since 1980. The farmland bird population is a key figure, as birds feed on insects and plants, and are thus considered a good barometer for the general state of biodiversity within farmland eco-systems. The continuing expansion of intensively-farmed areas at the expense of natural and semi-natural habitats is particularly worrying.
The report shows that building the Natura 2000 network has boosted the designation of protected areas in the EU. However, land use changes, eutrophication and acidification, climate change and biotechnology continue to be of general concern with regard to Europe's biodiversity.
Read the new report "Progress towards halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010."
The continuing loss of biological diversity and its components, genes, species and ecosystems, is an issue of global concern. Research has shown that both the diversity and the identity of the various species have a fundamental influence on the magnitude and stability of the ecological processes that occur at the ecosystem level. There are significant interrelationships between the degradation of ecosystems, the loss of animal and plant species, market globalisation, and poverty. Europe's high per capita consumption and waste production means that its impact on ecosystems is felt well beyond its own borders. Biodiversity loss is inextricably linked to the degradation of the ecosystem services described by the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
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