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You are here: Home / Media / News / The dynamics of Europe's changing landscape - Essential information to thrive in today's changing world

The dynamics of Europe's changing landscape - Essential information to thrive in today's changing world

Recent analyses by the EEA show that land is becoming a scarce resource: 800 000 ha of Europe's land cover was converted to artificial surfaces from 1990-2000. Only with careful spatial planning of urban and rural development can Europe avoid compromising its agricultural production, biodiversity, energy security and Kyoto targets and aspirations under the Lisbon agenda.

NEWS RELEASE


Copenhagen, 15 February 2005


The dynamics of Europe's changing landscape - Essential information to thrive in today's changing world


The resolution of the 3rd Earth Observation Summit to be adopted on the 16 February seeks to develop over the next 10 years a capacity to use earth observations for early warning systems, responses to natural disasters, health issues, management of energy resources, climate monitoring, weather forecasting, management of natural ecosystems, agriculture and biodiversity. An almost overwhelming list of essential information to help society thrive in the 21st century. But at the heart of these extensive efforts are the real needs of citizens.

Over the past 10 years, the European Environment Agency has provided information to policy makers, officials and researchers. In 2004, the Agency reached the attention of the general public through the launch of two products: the European Pollution Emissions Register - a tool to examine emissions of pollutants to air and water from nearly 10,000 industrial sites and Corine Land Cover 2000 -- the first digital map of the multiple changes that have occurred in Europe's landscapes since 1990. The immense response to both these products showed that there is an intense interest from the general public in gaining access to information about their local environment.

What the public can see from the Corine data sets is a series of snapshots of the conflicts arising from the various European policies in agriculture, transport and regional development which are now potentially at odds with the sustainable development of Europe.

Europe has been shaped by centuries of traditional farming practices, resulting in a wealth of different landscapes with high cultural and natural value. Landscape change is a relatively slow process, where small changes often go unnoticed but ultimately where the larger picture changes dramatically. Recent analyses by the EEA show that land is becoming a scarce resource: 800 000 ha of Europe's land cover was converted to artificial surfaces from 1990-2000. Only with careful spatial planning of urban and rural development can Europe avoid compromising its agricultural production, biodiversity, energy security and Kyoto targets and aspirations under the Lisbon agenda.

As urban sprawl continues to spread into the countryside, and transport infrastructure, recreational and rural services take over agricultural and natural areas, the rights and freedoms of individual citizens will increasingly be put at risk. It is therefore essential that information on the environment both in real-time and over accumulated periods of time be freely available -- free at the point of delivery to citizens and policy-makers alike. Under the Aarhus Convention, a new EU Directive on public access to environmental information was adopted yesterday. This week's adoption of the 10-year implementation plan for Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) must therefore seek to do the same for Europeans at a global level. And in its turn, the EEA will continue to step up the release of useful data and products, free at the point of delivery, for the citizens of its member countries to better understand the future changes in Europe's changing landscape and environment.


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About the EEA


The European Environment Agency is the leading public body in Europe dedicated to providing sound, independent information on the environment to policy-makers and the public. Operational in Copenhagen since 1994, the EEA is the hub of the European environment information and observation network (Eionet), a network of around 300 bodies across Europe through which it collects and disseminates environment-related data and information. An EU body, the Agency is open to all nations that share its objectives. It currently has 31 member countries: the 25 EU Member States, three EU candidate countries - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey - and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. A membership agreement has been initialled with Switzerland. The West Balkan states - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro - have applied for membership of the Agency.



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