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.

We have a narrow window of opportunity in the next decade to scale up measures to protect nature, lessen the impacts of climate change and radically reduce our consumption of natural resources.

Hans Bruyninckx

EEA Executive Director

Forest fires: when climate change destroys nature

A forest area the size of Luxembourg burned in the summer of 2022. During summer heat waves, forest fires were reported one after another.

Climate change has increased forest fire risk across Europe. Even so, the burnt area of the Mediterranean region has decreased slightly since 1980, indicating that fire control efforts have been effective. However, in recent years, forest fires coinciding with record droughts and heatwaves have affected regions in central and northern Europe not typically prone to fires.

An expansion of fire-prone areas and longer fire seasons are projected in most European regions, in particular for high-emissions scenarios, so additional adaptation measures will be needed.

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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Climate, nature and people: a shared future for our planet

The stakes have never been higher. Our planet is warming and losing species at an alarming rate. Two global conferences over the past two months brought people from across the world around a common topic — climate and biodiversity.

The challenges in both areas are symptoms of the same problem: our unsustainable production and consumption. Despite the complexity of the negotiations, these conferences are crucial for global awareness, consensus and urgent action.

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