Europe is a continent of breathtaking natural beauty and dramatic contrasts. The EU’s 27 Member States stretch from the frozen Arctic Circle in the north to the warm Mediterranean waters in the south. From the wave-lashed Atlantic coast in Ireland to the snow-capped Carpathian mountains in Romania, the EU includes a vast range of natural habitats and a great diversity of flora and fauna.
Our natural heritage includes several thousand types of habitat, 520 species of bird, 10 000 plant species and at least 100 000 species of invertebrate. Yet, in comparison with other regions in the world, these numbers are relatively modest. Europe is the most urbanized and densely populated continent in the world. It is also one of the most polluted. These factors have taken their toll on the natural environment.
Our natural environment is a key component of our health and wealth. However, our recent assessments show that the majority of habitats and species in Europe have an unfavourable conservation status ...