Critical review of state of nature in Europe leaked

The Guardian’s online edition published an article about a soon-to-be-published report on the state of Europe’s nature. The report found that 77% of natural habitats were deemed to be in a poor condition, with almost a third having deteriorated since a study in 2006. Onle around 4% were found to be improving since their designation as Natura 2000 site.

“In our view the report calls for investing more in nature conservation” says Zoltan Kun, the chairman of the European Wilderness Society. “More Natura 2000 sites should be designated as wilderness areas, where natural processes are allowed and human intervention is stopped. This was also the intention of the European Parliament’s special resolution on Wilderness in 2009.”

Since the 2009 resolution of the EP, the European Commission published a special wilderness guidance and a European Wilderness Register. However none of these two documents led to increasing the size of wilderness areas in the European Union member states.

According to the Guardian article, Andreas Baumüller, the head of European Policy at WWF European Policy Office says the following as a reaction on the report: “The report clearly shows that Europe’s wildlife and natural habitats are in crisis. Our habitats are slowly dying and our natural capital – reflected by species such as birds and butterflies – is being put under enormous pressure from unsustainable agriculture and land use policies.”

A few species are successfully recovering – the report cites the bearded vulture projects from the Alpine region – but these wildlife comeback is not sustainable until further public support is secured for protected areas especially for wilderness.

“Our recent wilderness evaluation in the Ukraine clearly shows that if wilderness areas are created as stepping zones within a network of protected areas, wildlife will thrive and local people can also benefit more” adds Zoltan Kun.

The Alps region is identified as a relatively well-conserved area in the 182-page draft report. But the ‘Boreal’ (Norway, Finland and the Baltics) and ‘Atlantic’ (UK, Western France, Denmark and Benelux countries) emerge as danger spots for biodiversity.

In the Atlantic and Boreal regions no forest ecosystems were found to be well-tended, although 80% of such habitats across Europe were also judged unfavourably.

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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