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 ruled in report The state of nature in the European Union. There are “inspiring success stories”, but not on a sufficient scale.
According to the report, nature’s decline is mainly due to unsustainable agriculture and forestry, urban sprawl and pollution.
Especially habitats such as bogs, marshes and dunes are doing worse. Grassland, which requires active management, is in a very poor condition.
The forests are improving here and there, but there is a great need to expand the forests. Knowledge gaps make it unclear how healthy they are for a quarter of marine habitats, according to “the largest and most comprehensive nature survey ever conducted in the EU”.
In 47 percent of bird species in the EU, the population is in a good condition, but that is 5 percentage points less than in 2015. The share of species with an inadequate or poor condition has increased from 32 percent to 39 percent. It is unknown how they perform for 14 percent of bird species, because reliable data is lacking.
European policy aims to protect all wild birds (over 460 species), representative and endangered habitats (233 types, from seagrass beds to mountain pastures) and nearly 1,400 additional species including iconic wild animal species.
Member States are expected to preserve and restore these species and habitats according to the bird and habitat directives that underpin the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. The European Environment Agency calls intensive agriculture and climate change the major challenges.