European Union countries should step up their conservation efforts and fully implement the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 to prevent species from going extinct, according to a recent analysis of the European Red List coordinated by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The analysis presents a detailed overview of species threatened at the European level in all 27 EU Member States. It shows that the highest share of species threatened in the European Union can be found in the Mediterranean region which hosts most of Europe’s biodiversity.
Spain, Portugal and Greece host the highest proportion of species threatened with extinction at the European level and should act with the greatest urgency.
•Of the 2,032 species assessed which occur in Spain, 21% are considered threatened at the European level.
•Fifteen percent of the 1,215 European species occuring in Portugal are threatened, and
•For 14% of the 1,684 European species found in Greece.
Of the species assessed so far, freshwater species – including fishes, molluscs and amphibians – are at the highest risk, with species such as the European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) and the Freshwater Pearl Mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) being particularly threatened. The status of terrestrial molluscs, dragonflies and mammals, such as the European Mink (Mustela lutreola) also raises significant concern.
Species are mainly threatened by the loss, fragmentation and degradation of their habitat, due in large part to agricultural and urban expansion, construction of dams and water pollution.
While effective conservation action in the Mediterranean is needed urgently, the study calls on ALL EU Member States to take adequate measures to reverse the current population declines, in order to avoid species going extinct.