European citizens would like better protection for endangered animals and plants, according to a new Eurobarometer survey.
The survey results on European citizens’ awareness of and views on biodiversity and nature, including the EU’s role in preventing biodiversity loss, were made public on 9th May, revealing that 77% of European citizens ‘totally agree’ that it is our responsibility to look after nature, with 71% saying that nature protection areas are ‘very important’ for the conservation of endangered animals. These results should convince EU decision makers to keep up existing protection rules for wild animal species such as wolves and bears.
The survey also reveals that the overwhelming majority do not accept damage to protected nature for economic purposes, and an increasing number sees intensive farming, intensive forestry and overfishing as very threatening to biodiversity. 41% of respondents would like to see existing nature and biodiversity rules strengthened, while one of the most popular actions they’d like to see the EU take is to ‘better implement’ these rules.
The last time the European Commission revisited the directives that protect biodiversity – the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC and the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC – was in 2016, when it concluded that they were fit for purpose, but need to be better implemented.
Nevertheless, MEPs and the hunting and farming lobbies have repeatedly called, via means such as an own-initiative report on the sheep and goat sector in the EU, for a re-evaluation of the directives. Such calls want challenges posed by coexisting with large carnivores to be tackled by an increase in hunting and lowered protection for wolves and bears, which are endangered species according to the EU Habitats Directive. This stands in stark contrast to what EU citizens say they want in the survey.
“The EU has already committed to restore and preserve protected species like wolves and bears in the Habitats Directive,” says Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals. “Instead of calling for changes that may lower the protection currently stated in the Directive, Member States should focus on what is important to EU citizens, for example by ensuring that farmers have prompt access to measures to prevent damage caused by large carnivores.”
Eurogroup for Animals calls on candidates in the upcoming EU elections to show a strong commitment to the protection of endangered animals and to support a better implementation and enforcement of the Birds and Habitats Directives.
EU candidates can show their support for the protection of biodiversity and endangered animals by taking the animal welfare pledge.
Ilaria Di Silvestre, Programme Leader – Wildlife
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