The EU is "highly unlikely" to meet its objective of putting a stop to biodiversity loss by 2010, the European Commission admits. For the bloc to even come close to achieving the target, "intensive efforts" will have to be made by both the Commission and individual member states, according to the mid-term assessmentof progress on implementing the Biodiversity Action Plan to halt biodiversity loss in the EU.
The EU is "highly unlikely" to meet its objective of putting a stop to biodiversity loss by 2010, the European Commission admits.
For the bloc toÂ even comeÂ close to achieving the target, "intensive efforts" will have to be made by both the Commission and individual member states, according to the mid-termÂ assessmentof progress on implementing theÂ Biodiversity Action Plan to halt biodiversity loss in the EU.
Earlier this year, European leaders reiterated their support for the 2010 targetÂ to end the destruction of European natural heritage, first adopted in 2000, but the political commitment hasn't translated into effective action.
The reportÂ reveals that 50% of all species and up to 80% of habitat typesÂ deemed by the EUÂ to be "of conservation interest"Â in EuropeÂ now haveÂ "unfavourable conservation" status. The same goes for over 40% of European bird species. While targeted measures to protect endangered life forms have been a success so far, large-scale action is nevertheless needed, it notes.
One positive EU development is the expansion of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, but site management and financing issues for the schemeÂ must be further addressed, the report says. It also records gaps in EU legislation, most notably concerning invasive species and soil conservation.
The Commission identifies integration of biodiversity considerations into different sectoral policies as a major task yet to be tackled. The agricultural sector, in particular, puts pressure on natural systems as an increasingÂ amount of land is required to meetÂ growing demand for food and to provide energy crops following the EU's new biofuel policy.
Environmental organisations were less than impressed by the results of the analysis. The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) called for an "Ecosystem Rescue Plan" to avert "planetary bankruptcy". "Nature doesn't do bail-outs," said EEB Biodiversity Policy Officer Pieter de Pous,Â drawing parallelsÂ with the financial crisis.
Konstantin Kreiser, EU policy manager at BirdLife International in Brussels, also stated that if governments "shy away from acting for our planet now, the price of a future bail-out will dwarf the current economic crisis".Â The NGO further criticised the "embarrassing" behaviour of the governments of Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia and Luxembourg,Â all ofÂ which failed to evenÂ respond to the Commission's questions when the report was compiled.
The EU exective'sÂ report acknowledges that loss of "ecosystem services",Â for example pollination,Â willÂ trigger welfare loss of 6% of global GDP every year by 2050 if nothing is done.
- European Commission:Â Communication: A mid-term assessment of implementing the EC Biodiversity Action PlanÂ (December 2008)
- European Commission press release:Â Environment: Major additional effort needed to halt biodiversity loss by 2010Â (Press release; 16 December 2008)
- European Commission:Â EU Biodiversity Action Plan Report 2008Â (Portal)
- European Commission:Â 2006 Biodiversity Communication & Action Plan(Portal)
- Birdlife International:Â 2010 biodiversity target is a hundred years awayÂ (16 December 2008)