By Ruth Marsden - 4th May 2011
The costs of replacing nature's free services would be devastating
EEB biodiversity policy officer Sarolta Tripolszky
The EU's new biodiversity strategy "falls short" of delivering what is required to protect Europe's natural resources, the European environmental bureau (EEB) has warned.
The strategy, which was presented by European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik on Tuesday, includes six targets aimed at protecting and improving the state of Europe's biodiversity over the next decade.
Potocnik said, "We are part of biodiversity, but we also depend on it for our food, for fresh water and clean air, and for a stable climate. The time has come to step up our efforts enormously.
"I am confident this new multi-sectoral approach will put us on track to halt biodiversity loss by 2020."
However, the EEB raised concerns that it will not bring the action needed to tackle the alarming decline of biodiversity.
Sarolta Tripolszky, a biodiversity policy officer at the EEB, warned that biodiversity is not simply about protecting rare plants and species.
"It's about protecting a system people rely on to live," she said, "The costs of replacing nature's free services would be devastating".
The commission's six priority targets include full implementation of existing nature protection legislation and improving and restoring ecosystems wherever possible.
They also aim to ensure the sustainability of agriculture and forestry activities, safeguard EU fish stocks, control invasive species and stepping up Europe's contribution to global action.
Friends of the Earth Europe also welcomed the new plans, but warned that "measurable targets" are needed in the areas of agriculture and forestry.
Friedrich Wulf, a biodiversity campaigner for the environmental network said, "Agriculture and forestry are the biggest land users in Europe, and how that land is used is crucial in preventing further biodiversity loss."
Commenting on the EU's commitment to halting biodiversity loss by 2020, he said, "This communication comes close, but environment ministers must support measurable and precise targets for agriculture and forestry, otherwise Europe's plan to halt biodiversity loss will fail."
Alberto Arroyo, a conservation policy coordinator at WWF, highlighted the importance of the commission's new strategy as an "important signal of good intentions", but warned that it does not have the "real power" to stop biodiversity loss.
He said, "The fundamental solutions to protect nature will not be found in this strategy but rather in the upcoming legislative reforms that will be decided soon, such as the EU financial framework, common agricultural policy, common fisheries policy and overseas development cooperation strategy."
The commission will implement the strategy as soon as possible and it will be reviewed in 2014.