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Sound and independent information
on the environment

The context

1 Reporting on Europe's environment

Explains how the report has been developed and organized and the functions it fulfills. The coverage, constraints, information selection and assessment methods used are presented and discussed. The report model (see illustration) shows the analytical structure of the report and specifies the interrelationships between environmental assessment, policy making and implementation.

The analytical model ot the report and its relation to policy making and implementation. At its most simple, human activities put pressure on the environment giving rise to environmental problems.

 

2 Environmental changes and human development

Provides the context for the assessment of Europe's environment where human action is now altering the global environment on an unprecedented scale. The interactions between environment and development are examined in relation to changes in human induced interferences with biogeochemical cycles. Demographic and economic growth are key to understanding human-induced pressures on the environment, and sustainability and carrying capacity are important concepts against which to analyse these problems. Europe often plays a disproportionate role in contributing to environmental change.

In the past 100 years, world population has tripled, the world economy has grown 20 times, fossil fuel consumption has increased by a factor of 30 and industrial expansion by a factor of 50 since the 18th century 6 million km2 Of the world's forest — an area larger than Europe — has been cleared world-wide as much sulphur and nitrogen is cycled by human activities as by natural phenomena.

3 Europe: the continent

Europe is the second smallest continent, comprising little more than 7% of the Earth's land area. The continent is surrounded by nine major seas, including the world's two largest land-locked seas, the Caspian and the Black Sea. The area includes 46 States, of which 19 are in the EU and EFTS area, 21 in Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe, four < small continental States and two are small island territories. The continent spans three climatic zones: the circumpolar, the temperate and the subtropical. The chapter discusses these, and the geological and biogeographic factors that give the continent its soil and vegetation patterns. It concludes with an account of landuse in Europe.

  • The proportion of European land devoted to agriculture varies from less than 10% in Finland, Sweden and Norway, to more than 70% in Hungary, Ireland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom
  • Forest cover varies from 6% in Ireland to 66% in Finland
  • Each decade 2% of agricultural land is lost to urbanization
  • Europe is two to three times more densely populated than the United States and Africa, but only half as much as Asia

 

 
   
 

Geographical coverage

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100