The European Union has failed to make nature healthier in recent years. Biodiversity continues to decline and the necessary investment in nature has failed to materialize, the European Environment Agency judged Monday in its report The State of Nature in the European Union. There are “inspiring success stories,” but not on a sufficient scale.
According to the report, the deterioration of nature is mainly due to unsustainable agriculture and forestry, urban sprawl, and pollution.
Habitats such as bogs, marshes, and dunes are especially in worse shape. Grasslands, which require active management, are in particularly poor condition.
Forests are improving here and there, but there is a great need for forest expansion. Gaps in knowledge mean that a quarter of marine habitats are not clear how healthy they are, according to “the largest and most comprehensive nature screening ever conducted in the EU.”
47 percent of bird species in the EU are in good status, but this is 5 percentage points less than in 2015. The proportion of species with inadequate or poor status has increased from 32 percent to 39 percent. How 14 percent of bird species are doing is unknown due to a lack of reliable data.
European policy aims to protect all wild birds (over 460 species), representative and threatened habitats (233 types, from seagrass beds to mountain meadows), and nearly 1,400 additional species including iconic wildlife species.
Member states are supposed to conserve and restore these species and habitats according to the Birds and Habitats Directives that underpin the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. The European Environment Agency identifies intensive agriculture and climate change as the major challenges.