Europe and Central Asia

Press release: EU fails to stop death of nature – State of environment has got worse over past five years

Brussels – 4 December 2019

To the members of the press – under embargo until 4 December 00:01

>>>Full report available here

Today, the latest ‘European Environment - State and Outlook’ report (SOER) was released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) [1]. It states that ‘Europe faces environmental challenges of unprecedented scale and urgency’. The report, which is released every five years, shows that the overall state of the environment in Europe has worsened, with protecting biodiversity being the biggest failure. As it stands, Europe won’t reach most of its 2020 targets, and looking ahead to 2030, if current trends continue, they will result in further deterioration of nature and continued pollution of air, water and soil.

Among the bleakest results of the report, it is clear that Europe continues to lose biodiversity at a catastrophic rate. The report states that “the impact of Europe’s alarming rate of biodiversity loss is as catastrophic as climate change”. The animals, insects, plants and habitats protected under the EU Habitats Directive show predominantly unfavourable conservation status for 60% of species and 77% for habitats. Long-term monitoring shows a continuing downward trend in populations of common birds and butterflies, with the most pronounced declines in farmland birds (32%) and grassland butterflies (39%). Of the 13 specific policy objectives set for 2020 in this area, only two are likely to be met: designating marine protected areas and terrestrial protected areas.

The long-term trends over the last 25 years show that birds, and in particular farmland birds, have suffered from significant declines and show no sign of recovery. The long-term trends in farmland, forest and all common bird populations demonstrate that Europe has experienced a major decline in biodiversity. This has been primarily due to the loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural and semi-natural ecosystems, mainly caused by agricultural intensification. The report states that a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could still help bird populations recover.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia:
One more gigantic piece of evidence joins the cascading series of scientific studies providing overwhelming proof about the planetary crisis we have created. Nature is being wiped off the face of Europe. Nature is being wiped off the face of our planet. Nobody can say that we didn’t know. Next week, the new EU Commission is launching its European Green Deal. Its response must be commensurate to the size of the crisis at hand. From law enforcement to nature restoration, from agriculture to fisheries, the Green Deal needs to signal a U-turn away from business as usual and lead us away from the disastrous path we’re on, degrading the biological resources our very lives depend on.


For more information, please contact:

Honey Kohan, Media Officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 2541 0781

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 48663 0042

[1] The European environment – state and outlook 2020 is published by the EEA every five years as mandated in its regulation. SOER 2020 is the 6th SOER published by the EEA since 1995. It offers solid, science-based insights on how we must respond to the huge and complex challenges we face, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and air and water pollution. SOER 2020 has been prepared in close collaboration with the EEA’s European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet). The report draws on the Eionet’s vast expertise of leading experts and scientists in the environmental field, across the EEA’s 33 member countries and six cooperating countries

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.