Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Friday, 28 January, 2000, 00:42 GMT
'Grim future' for Europe's wildlife

brown bear The brown bear, one of ten species WWF says are endangered


By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

Many European species are under threat across the continent, says UK conservation group the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

A report, Species Alert! Natura 2000: A last chance to European biodiversity, lists 10 species which it says are in decline in most European Union countries:

  • Iberian lynx
  • brown bear
  • harbour porpoise
  • monk seal
  • loggerhead turtle
  • a freshwater mussel
  • Atlantic salmon
  • marsh fritillary butterfly
  • lady's slipper orchid
  • corncrake.
WWF says the10 species "provide a snapshot of a bleak picture for wildlife across Europe. Research suggests there are fewer than 650 Iberian lynx left in the wild. Monk seal numbers are estimated at about 500".

It says the distribution of the marsh fritillary in the UK has shrunk by 50-75% over the last 25 years.


corncrake Corncrake numbers have fallen steeply
For some species, like the freshwater mussel, habitat pressure and pollution are the problems. Intensive agriculture is putting pressure on the corncrake and the marsh fritillary, and the harbour porpoise is sometimes caught in fishing nets.

WWF says European governments should implement the EU's habitats directive and designate special areas of conservation (SACs) to protect all the species at risk.

No EU country has so far met the directive's requirements on SACs, although they should have done so by 1995.

Approaching deadline

The European Commission has begun legal action against the UK and several other EU governments for failing to designate enough SACs.

Rebecca May of WWF told BBC News Online: "Those governments need to get cracking and submit their lists of proposed sites by about June this year."

"There is not an unlimited time allowed under the directive for designating SACs, and the meeting to decide which will be approved is being held in October.

"It's in that sense that we are saying this is the last chance for the 10 species. The October meeting will be the last opportunity to designate the sites.

"If that doesn't happen, the future of these species could be a grim one."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

See also:
09 Aug 99 |  Sci/Tech
Manx corncrakes croak anew
09 Jun 99 |  Sci/Tech
Herons fly high but cuckoos crash
11 Nov 99 |  Sci/Tech
Last chance for Europe's 'tiger'
11 Jan 00 |  Sci/Tech
Clone plan for extinct goat

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories