Human activity is not only causing climate change, it is also causing the deterioration of ecosystems and unprecedented levels of species loss. We are facing an extinction crisis with the very nature we need to survive under threat.
Industrial farming, producing energy, increasing urban sprawl, and infrastructure development all contribute to the destruction and fragmentation of habitats.
As a result there are 420 million fewer birds than 30 years ago and two-thirds of European wetlands have been lost over the last 100 years. Once common flowers, birds, butterflies, amphibians and reptiles are getting rarer by the day, and bees across Europe are in vast rapid decline.
The reality is that the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, all rely on a variety of plant and animal life. Some examples are obvious – without plants there would be no oxygen, and without bees there would be no fruit. Others are less obvious but just as important; the species that spread vital seeds for the trees that soak up carbon dioxide and maintain a stable climate.
To protect Europe’s most precious nature, under EU nature laws the largest network of protected natural areas in the world was established, Natura 2000. But EU governments must use these vital protections to their full potential and enforce them fully – particularly given that in in 2015 when the European Commission suggested changing these laws, over 500,000 citizens demanded they were not weakened.
Read more about how EU nature laws are being implemented across the continent.
The EEB also advocates for political leaders to ensure all EU policies and budgets are aligned with nature protection objectives, in particular, the Common Agricultural Policy.
It’s also urgent to restore habitats that have been degraded and keep nature connected, allowing animals to move between natural areas and keep our ecosystems genetically diverse and rich in species. Restoring large and interconnected natural areas also reduces flood risk, helping with climate change mitigation and adaptation, and provides us with unquantifiable health and well-being benefits.
The EEB is working with Rewilding Europe, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, WWF and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) to advocate for political action to create a coherent ecological network of Green Infrastructure in Europe through the promotion of rewilding principles.
Global nature action
The EEB fully supports work being done at the international level to adopt a global deal for nature – comparable to the Paris climate agreement – to halt and reverse dangerous levels of habitat and wildlife loss. There is no time to lose.
We are facing a climate crisis and an extinction crisis – it is imperative that our generation tackles them together urgently, otherwise we are presiding over our own demise.
Cover photo credit: Wild Wonders of Europe – Mark Hamblin
of animal and plant species protected in the EU are threatened, declining or depleted
are protected by EU nature laws