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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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Healthy natural areas often fulfil important yet unseen functions, from preventing floods to filtering air. A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) proposes a method for mapping this 'green infrastructure'.
European households are generating lower levels of nutrient pollution in water, despite a growing population. In a similar example of 'absolute decoupling', levels of some pollutants from agriculture and manufacturing have fallen in recent years, while the economic production of these sectors has grown.
Meeting European demands for food, water, energy and housing exerts major pressures on the environment, indirectly affecting human health and well-being. To reduce the impact of Europe's resource use, a new assessment from the European Environment Agency (EEA) reflects on integrating different policy areas and improved spatial planning.
Flat-fee water charges are still common in parts of Europe. Such schemes, where users pay a fee regardless of the volume used, do not encourage efficient behaviour, either in households or agriculture, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The River Rhine has won the first ever International River Foundation (IRF) European River Prize, which is given for remarkable achievements in integrated river basin management. The other finalists were the Órbigo River in Spain, the Upper Drau in Austria, and the Mura-Drava-Danube in Central Europe.
Most beaches, lakes and rivers in Europe were clean and healthy last year. But water quality can be affected by many unforeseen factors, including sewage, agricultural waste and algae. The European Environment Agency (EEA) recommends checking local water quality information before you jump in.
Grassland butterflies have declined dramatically between 1990 and 2011. This has been caused by intensifying agriculture and a failure to properly manage grassland ecosystems, according to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
When fishermen in the Koster Sea in Southern Sweden understood the value of the ecosystems beneath the waves, they voluntarily agreed to change fishing practices. The area became Sweden’s first marine national park in 2006.