As humans, we have changed the Earth like no other species. We have had a significant impact on nearly every other species and habitat that shares our planet with us. Europe, one of the most densely populated places in the world, is no exception to this reality.
Agriculture creates the greatest pressure on nature
According to Eurostat, nearly 40% of EU land is used for agriculture. While traditional agriculture has allowed many animals and plants to coexist with crops, the evolution of agricultural practices since 1950 towards intensification and specialization has contributed to the strong loss of biodiversity. of the EEAAccording to the results of the study, the increase in irrigation with the use of fertilizers and pesticides and the intensive soil change are the main reasons for the pressure on animals and plants in the region, especially the birds.
used in agriculture Pesticide pollution is behind the alarming reduction in the numbers of some insectivorous birds and larks.
One of the most important editions traditional pasture management has come to an end. Pollinators such as bees, wasps and butterflies are strongly affected. Division of land for agricultural purposes and drainage It destroys the habitats used by birds, reptiles and small mammals for food, shelter and reproduction.
Water, air and soil pollution
We often attribute pollution to the main sources of industry, transport and power generation, but almost 50% of the pollution pressure on nature comes from agricultural emissions to air, water and floor. used in agriculture pesticide pollutionis responsible for the alarming decline in the numbers of some insectivorous birds and larks. Pesticide pollution also affects amphibians such as frogs, toads and salamanders, insects and small mammals including bats, hamsters and European field squirrels.
Similarly, pesticides and fertilizers have affected about 80% of the 576 species of butterflies living in Europe. In addition, agriculture, which is a major source of surface and groundwater pollution, affects many ecosystems.
Aim to halve the use of chemical pesticides and support less intensive farming practices, including reducing fertilizer use by at least 20% The EU from farm to fork One of the main problems that the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 are trying to address is pollution from agriculture.
Division and damage to habitats
Urbanization is another problem that puts great pressure on nature. But perhaps surprisingly, most of the damage now comes from the conversion of natural areas to urban ones (According to the report, it is not caused by 11% of the pressure in this area) but rather by sports, tourism and entertainment activities (consumers of 25% of the resources of urban pressure). However, constructions and renovations in urban areas also affect many species accustomed to living in urban living spaces (constitute about 10% of pressure resources in the city).
Moreover, highways, railways, dams and other infrastructure elements divide living spaces and destroy nature. Traffic disturbs and kills wildlife. Soils with important reservoirs of biodiversity; The building is damaged because it is covered with asphalt or concrete.
Most European coasts tourism intact since modified for
There is little room left for marine and coastal habitats. Waterfowl such as ducks, geese, herons and scuba divers, as well as endangered raptors such as the Egyptian vulture and bearded vulture are badly affected when their nesting sites are destroyed.
Europe’s ecological footprint in the world
Europe’s ecological footprint goes far beyond what its ecosystems can support. This has negative consequences for the environment both inside and outside Europe.
Production and consumption, above the world average in Europe, also lead to environmental degradation in other parts of the world. For example,This rate also includes the amount resulting from products imported into the EU and consumed by Europeans.
According to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 75% of the terrestrial environment and 40% of the marine environment have been severely modified worldwide.
As global biodiversity declines and the global ecological footprint already exceeds biocapacity, Europe’s ecological deficit could lead to the depletion of natural capital, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse in other parts of the world. world.
However, the EEAEU as shown; It can play a positive role in addressing these global challenges through its economic, diplomatic and trade ties and its leadership in environmental governance. In addition, European product standards and trade practices can have positive effects beyond European borders.
Unsustainable forestry, poaching and overfishing
Almost all forests in Europe have been transformed by human intervention. Even after reforestation, the nature of man-managed forests is different. For example, if there are fewer trees of different species and ages, the habitat may be negatively affected.
Despite all the conservation measures, we see local forests being destroyed and razed before new trees are planted in Europe.
Cut dead and old trees and decrease in virgin forests It affects many insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, bats and small mammals such as hog-nosed bats, Caucasian squirrels and forest dormice.
Despite all the protective measures, new trees are not planted in Europe.We see.
According to the study of 26 European countries, at least 52 million wild birds are hunted by humans every year in Europe. Illegal hunting threatens many animal species, especially birds and mammals. Wild and free-ranging cats and dogs also pose a threat.
Fish are also affected by fishing practices, as marine mammals such as the short-beaked dolphin and porpoise are sometimes caught in the nets used for fishing.
Even when we try to enjoy nature, we can unintentionally harm the habitats and species around us. Extreme sports, motorhomes, drones, nature walks and uncontrolled wildlife viewing Many recreational activities such as nature can be very harmful to nature.
Invasion of alien species
Europeans brought new plant and animal species to the continent, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. These new species sometimes invade habitats and disrupt ecosystems.
To those invasive alien species That’s why it’s called.
European bird prey among some of the most damaging invasive alien species American mink, swamp beaver, raccoon and circulating in the places of life chinese muntjac is located. Scalloped jellyfish, which first arrived in the Black Sea with ships’ bilge water, have severely damaged some fish populations.
There are also invasive alien plant species that are replacing native species. False indigo, Japanese macaw and Himalayan henna flower (Himalayan balsam) are some examples.
Climate change: the main emerging threat to nature
climate change; It is already affecting life in Europe through rising temperatures, droughts, changes in rainfall patterns, forest fires and falling snowfall. Climate change, seen as a new threat to species in Europe, will affect more and more animals and plants.
your species disappeared locally and regionally. and moreover it is seen to move northward and to higher altitudes. Amphibians, birds and bats are the species most affected by droughts and changes in rainfall distribution.
warns that ocean warming, acidification and oxygen loss continue to worsen, threatening marine habitats.
In order to reduce the impact of climate change, we need to produce energy in a sustainable way. Europe at the forefront of decarbonisation efforts By 2050
a lot carbon neutral aims to be This is a very important goal; but a few
case renewable energy development can harm habitats and species. For example, wind turbines can pose a threat to these species due to the possibility of bats and birds colliding with the wings. In addition, dams can block the passage of sediments and migrating fish.
Therefore, on animals and their habitats, minimize the effects It is essential to take all decarbonization measures in coordination with biodiversity policies. There are many viable solutions that benefit both the climate and nature, such as improving the condition of the soil.
The factors described above are those which exert the strongest pressure on Europe’s nature; but there are also other factors. caused by human activities noise and light pollution affects many species. There are many problems to solve, but it is clear that man must relearn how to let nature heal. Failure to do so urgently can lead to consequences that we cannot reverse.
Source: State of Nature in the EU, EEA report 10/2020.