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Farming has a big influence on Europe's landscapes and the quality of its environment. With farmers managing almost half of the EU's land area, the agricultural sector is a major source of pressure on Europe's environment. Over the past five decades, the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - accounting for around half of the EU budget — has encouraged the sector to become rapidly modernised and agricultural production itself to increase intensification. More
- Key facts and messages
- Land use trends since 2000 remain the same as in the previous decade but most have slowed down somewhat. Urban areas, infrastructure and forest cover are still increasing at the expense of agricultural land. Farmland is often managed more intensively partly due to growing demand for bio-energy... more
- Current land use trends are likely to continue though possibly at a lower rate, with built-up area increasing at the expense of agricultural land uses and natural areas. Within agriculture, arable land for food and energy crops is likely to gain share at the expense of grassland and permanent... more
- Growth of the maritime, agriculture and tourism sectors is expected to continue. An important future objective for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will be to ensure that this growth is sustainable to achieve and then maintain ‘Good Environmental Status’ of the marine environment.... more
- Diffuse pollution from both agriculture and urban areas remains a major pressure on Europe’s freshwater. Cost-effective measures to tackle both sources exist and can be implemented through the river basin management plans of the Water Framework Directive. Full compliance with the Nitrates... more
- Across the European Union, agriculture uses about a quarter of water diverted from the natural environment, though this can be up to 80% in southern Europe. more
- Agro-ecosystems in Europe have a total annual economic value of around EUR 150 billion. more
- Some authors estimate 36 % of European subsoils as having high or very high susceptibility to compaction. Other sources report 32 % of soils being highly vulnerable and 18 % moderately affected. (The use of heavy machinery in agriculture can induce ‘soil compaction’, which reduces its capacity... more
- Salinisation stands for the accumulation of basic substances mainly from minerals in water and fertilizers which makes soils unsuitable for plant growth. It affects approximatly 3.8 million ha in Europe. The main driver is the inappropriate management of irrigated agricultural land. more
- In Europe as a whole, 45 % of freshwater abstraction is for cooling in energy production, followed by: agriculture, 22 %; public water supply, 21 %; and industry, 12 %. In southern Europe, agriculture accounts for more than half of total national abstraction, rising to more than 80 % in some... more
- Despite improvements in some regions, diffuse pollution from agriculture remains a major cause of the poor water quality currently observed in parts of Europe. Agriculture contributes 50-80 % of the total nitrogen load observed in Europe’s freshwater, with point discharges, including from... more
- Some estimates calculate that approximately a quarter of water abstracted for irrigation in Europe could be saved, just by changing the type of pipe or channel used. more
The European Commission has decided to ban three neonicotinoid insecticides. These chemicals can harm honeybees, according to a large body of scientific evidence, so the European Environment Agency (EEA) commends the precautionary decision to ban them.
Europe needs to redouble efforts in using water more efficiently to avoid undermining its economy, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Inefficient water use impacts hard on the resources needed by ecosystems and people, both vital assets for European productivity and security.
Soil is one of the planet's invaluable resources but continues to be degraded in Europe. Together, the mineral particles, water, air, organic matter, and living organisms that constitute soil perform key functions which underpin our society.
Today, the European Commission launched its proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013. The key objective is ‘to strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture throughout the EU in order to secure for European citizens a healthy and high-quality source of food, preserve the environment and develop rural areas’. The proposals tie financial support more closely to environmental goals.
European landscapes reflect not only the continent's diverse climate and geology but also centuries of interaction between man and nature. A new European Environment Agency (EEA) study reviews this interplay, highlighting the main threats to this rich heritage and initiatives to protect it.
Snow-capped peaks, rocky inclines, rich forests and sloping meadows provide recreation and economic opportunities for humans and a home to many plants and animals. The European Environment Agency's new assessment of mountain ecosystems sheds light on their state and the pressures they face.
Intensive farming has long been a major cause of biodiversity decline in Europe. The European Environment Agency's (EEA) new short assessment examines Europe's efforts to strike a balance between producing sufficient food and maintaining agro-ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity above and below ground.
What is a bee to you? Or a mushroom that grows in parts of Finland? Do you consider yourself an apple connoisseur? A new series of biodiversity stories developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its Eionet partners can help us rediscover our connection with the natural world around us and understand why we urgently need to halt the loss of biodiversity.