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Europe’s nature is filled with forests, mountains, vast plains, long rivers, deep blue seas and refreshing lakes. But it also is under threat. Unsustainable farming and forestry practices, pollution, climate change and invasive species are stressing and destabilising all natural systems in Europe. The result is a biodiversity crisis. The EU is taking steps to protect and restore nature.
Editorial — Caring for the environment is caring for ourselves
Nature is the foundation of our health and well-being. It gives us clean air, water, food, materials and space for recreation. Spending time in nature is good for our mental health. And if we do not take care of the planet, its climate and ecosystems, we undermine how our societies function, worsen our lives and, perhaps most directly, harm our own well-being.
EEA Executive Director
Toxic substances found in shellfish
In the marine environment, hazardous substances accumulate in fish and shellfish, which are a food source for other marine animals and humans alike.
Of nine hazardous substances monitored between 2010 and 2019, all exceeded the safe limit values — especially benzo[a]pyrene, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).
The contaminants are toxic for marine biota, and consuming contaminated seafoods may generate detrimental effects on human health, such as structural damage or failure of organs and increased cancer risk. Reducing concentrations of these substances helps achieve the 'good environmental status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Zero Pollution Action Plan targets.
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Birds: an indicator of environmental health
Birds are sensitive to environmental pressures and their populations can reflect changes in the health of the environment.
Long-term trends show that between 1990 and 2021, the index of 168 common birds decreased by 12% in the EU. The decline was much stronger in common farmland birds, at 36%, while the common forest bird index decreased by 5%.
At present, it seems unlikely that the decline in populations of common birds can be reversed by 2030.