A recent survey of the Eurobarometer on the Attitudes of Europeans towards the issue of biodiversity revealed that at least eight out of ten Europeans consider the various effects of biodiversity loss to be serious. More than half think they will be personally affected by biodiversity loss.
Biodiversity is the unique web of life on Earth. We are part of it and depend on it for our survival and quality of life. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems purify the water we drink and the air we breathe; they provide us with food, materials and medicines, maintain soil fertility, regulate the climate and protect us from extreme weather.
Biodiversity and ecosystem services are being lost and degraded at rates unprecedented in human history. The loss of our natural capital undermines humanity’s livelihoods and opportunities for sustainable development. It has been estimated that biodiversity loss costs the EU 3% of its GDP annually.
Protecting and restoring biodiversity is a key aim for the EU, but what do Europeans think?
This survey was designed to explore European citizens’ awareness and views on:
- biodiversity and the importance of preserving it
- the seriousness and impact of biodiversity loss at individual, domestic, European and global levels
- the biggest threats to biodiversity
- what the EU should do to prevent the loss of biodiversity, both within the EU and globally
- the role of the Natura 2000 network and attitudes to developments that may damage these protected areas, and
- personal efforts to protect nature and biodiversity.
The survey will be inputting into the ongoing mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which assesses whether the EU is on track to achieve the objective of halting biodiversity loss by 2020. Unfortunately while there are progresses in many areas, but Member States need far greater effort to deliver commitments on implementation of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. Nature’s capacity to clean the air and water, to pollinate crops and to limit the impacts of catastrophes such as flooding is being compromised, with potentially significant unforeseen costs to society and our economy.
Fortunately Europeans recognise that biodiversity loss is a serious issue! The main findings of the Eurobarometer’s recent survey are the followings:
- Pollution and man-made disasters are considered the biggest threats to biodiversity.
- More than three quarters of Europeans (76%) believe that mankind has a responsibility to look after nature and that it is important to stop biodiversity loss,
- while more than two out of three (67%) totally agree that looking after nature is essential for tackling climate change and six out of 10 (60%) totally agree that our health and well-being are based upon nature and biodiversity.
- More than nine out of ten Europeans (93%) think the EU should better inform citizens about the importance of biodiversity.
- Almost two thirds of respondents (65%) feel they are making a personal effort to protect biodiversity and nature.
- About a quarter of respondents (26%) have heard of the Natura 2000 network, including 16% who say they have heard about it but don’t know what it is. The majority (73%) have never heard of it.
- The majority of Europeans have heard of the term “biodiversity” (60%), but less than one third (30%) know what it means. Additionally, most do not feel informed about biodiversity loss (66%).
MORE WILDERNESS IS NEEDED IN EUROPE in order to halt biodiversity loss and support a sustainable wildlife comeback on our continent.