EU concerned about farming impact on its wildlife

2015-05-20 14:49

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Brussels - About half of wild birds have a secure status as EU programmes to protect endangered species have boosted numbers, but some of their habitats are cause for major concern largely because of intensive farming, an EU report found on Wednesday.

The State of Nature in the European Union report for the years 2007-2012 found 17% of species, including some birds of prey, are threatened.

Another 15% are near threatened or in decline. These include once common birds, such as the skylark.

Researchers from the European Environment Agency found in their most extensive six-year assessment yet that the state of natural habitats was even more worrying and most have an unfavourable conservation status.

Grasslands, wetlands and dune habitats were of particular concern, the report found, adding that the main threats were agricultural practices, such as over-grazing, fertilisation and pesticides.

Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vellasaid the research showed that efforts to improve vulnerable ecosystems can be very effective but it "underlines the scale of the challenges that remain".

Among the birds to have benefited from targeted EU conservation action were bearded vultures and white-headed ducks, whose numbers have improved substantially, the report found.

Campaign groups said the report showed the need for vigorous EU law to protect the environment and policy-makers should not be distracted by Eurosceptic arguments against Brussels interference.

"A thriving natural world is crucial for everybody's health and wellbeing, so the EU would be foolish to undermine nature protections in the name of cutting red tape," Robbie Blake, Friends of the Earth Europe biodiversity campaigner, said.

Read more on:    belgium  |  conservation  |  animals

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