Greece faces court over turtle habitat

The European Union (EU) is to take Greece to court over the threats to turtle habitat in the country. The EU is to claim that unrestricted development around the coast of Greece is putting endangered sea turtles at risk. Of particular concern is  Kyparissia Bay in the Western Peloponnese, one of the most important nesting beaches for loggerhead turtles (caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean. Kyparissia Bay is an area that is protected by European legislation but the greek authorities are issuing a large number of permits for development in the region and this is putting the habitat of loggerhead turtles at risk. Despite being issued with two letters of warning since 2011 and Greece…

Vultures under threat – Europe ignores Asian lessons

Europe has failed to take notice of the Asian experience with the cattle drug Diclofenac as it becomes more widely available on the continent. Used to treat animals for inflammation and other diseases vultures are unable to break down the chemical and die from renal failure. The impact of the drug was quick and devastating with vulture populations in India during the 1980’s running at millions of birds to barely a few thousand remaining by the late 1990’s. Despite the drug being banned by India in March 2006, Nepal in August 2006 and Pakistan in late 2006 the drug has been authorised for use in Spain where 80% of European vultures…

EU wildlife trafficking consultation opens to the public

The EU has opened up a 2 month consultation period with the public and organisations interested in combatting wildlife crime and trafficking. The consultation opened today and will close  on 10 April 2014 – the day that an expert panel will be convened. The results of the panel and the consultation will form the basis of future European level action against wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking both into and through European countries is increasing. As people and cultures become more fluid and global movement and migrations taker place so does the consumption and use of illegal wildlife products. While the South East Asian countries are still the predominate destination country for…

UKIP leads fight against stronger wildlife protection

In todays vote in the European Parliament just 14 MEP’s voted against the proposal to improve the fight against wildlife crime. Half of those 14 were British MEP’s and 6 of the 7 were United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) members. The 7 British MEP’s who voted against the wildlife crime resolution were: John Stuart AGNEW (UKIP) Gerard BATTEN (UKIP) Derek Roland CLARK (UKIP) William (The Earl of) DARTMOUTH (UKIP) Nigel FARAGE (UKIP) Paul NUTTALL (UKIP) Nicole SINCLAIRE (We Demand A Referendum) The country with the next largest number of MEP’s who voted against the resolution was the Netherlands with 4 MEPs voting against the measure. The remaining 7 rebels of…

European Parliament calls for automatic destruction of seized ivory stocks

Members if the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted on a get tough resolution on wildlife crime including the mandatory destruction of ivory stocks held by member states.  While Britain still does not know how much seized ivory it holds – or where it is – the EU are pushing on with ways to protect rhino and elephants from poachers. “If we don’t take radical measures very quickly to stop these illegal practices, there will soon be no more of these iconic animals living wild anywhere on earth. We must treat this slaughter as organised crime, just like the illegal drug trade”, said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL), who put an oral…

EU commits 12 million euros to combat illegal wildlife trade

There is sure to be confusion at some point in the future over the name with 2 MIKE(S) on the block but the news that the European Commission has set aside 12.3 million euros to combat the illegal wildlife trade over the next 4 years has to be welcomed. MIKES (not to be confused with MIKE) aims to help provide African states with resources to combat poaching and smuggling of elephants and other endangered species such as great apes. The new EU projects is called “Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species (MIKES)” and should not be confused with the CITES programme “Monitoring the Illegal Killing of…

UK cities lead Europe on climate preparations

UK cities are substantially more advanced in their planning and preparation for climate change than other European cities according to a newly published study. The study shows that 80% of UK cities have an adaption plan compare with 50% of Finnish cities and 93% of UK cities had mitigation plans as opposed to 43% of French cities. Holland had the most ambitious plans though with cities aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050. The study by Columbia University in the US has been published in Springer’s journal Climatic Change. The researchers looked at 200 cities spread across 11 European countries. What the team found was that a third of cities…

Copernicus to go open souce for the public

Europe’s premier environmental monitoring system, Copernicus, is set to become a major source of free information for business, the public and statutory authorities. The European Commission has announced that from next month data from the programme is to become open source. The new open data dissemination regime will help citizens, businesses, researchers and policy makers to integrate an environmental dimension into all their activities and decision-making procedures. Data will be accessible and downloadable from a number of specialist portals from next month after safeguards have been put in place to protect security-sensitive information of EU member countries. The information will not just be available for EU members but will also be accessible on a global basis as part…

9 out of 10 Europeans concerned over biodiversity loss – but most do nothing about it

A new survey released by the European Commission shows that 93% of Europeans believe that conserving biodiversity in Europe is important – but not so much that they will change their lives to combat the loss. Only 38% of people say they take personal action to try and combat loss, for example by buying eco-friendly products. It is a common situation in the environmental movement – ask someone if they are worried about wildlife and the vast majority say yes (who would say no to protecting the environment) but look at actions and you see an entirely different story with people not willing to take action in order to make the changes. It’s a bit…

MEPs back action on bottom-trawling in the Atlantic

MEPs in Europe on Monday backed – in part – plans to restrict bottom trawling in the North East Atlantic fisheries in order to try and boost stocks. Despite turning down the European Commission (EC) proposal to ban bottom trawling completely in the region they left the door open for a review in 4 years that could see the full proposals bought in. The EC had put proposals to the Fisheries Committee of European MPs to ban bottom-trawling altogether however this was turned down by the committee on Monday. The committee though back plans (19 in favour, 0 against, 4 abstentions) to ban bottom-trawling in sensitive areas in order to protect spawning grounds of commercial fish species. The proposals…

UK has just 7% developed land cover according to latest Eurostat figures

The latest Eurostat land use figures show that the UK is not particularly over-developed despite what many conservation and environmental organisations claim. According to figures released today the UK has 7% of its land developed, this compares with 13% for Belgium, 8% for Germany and 12% for the Netherlands. Overall the EU has 5% of its land cover made up of developed land (this includes buildings, roads, railways, and artificial landscapes such as car parks and cemeteries etc). About 40% of European land cover is forests and woodland, agriculture accounted for about 25% of land use and grasslands about 20%. The data is published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European…

As EU votes on fisheries reforms, no take zones prove their worth – again

As the EU votes on fisheries reforms in order to try and put together a plan to make the fisheries industry sustainable into the long term, a new study of a no take zone shows both nature and humans benefiting in as little as 10 years. Around the world no take zones – marine parks where no fishing, and in many cases any commercial activity, is allowed has shown them to be extremely successful in helping the environment to bounce back after years of over exploitation. Those changes can happen pretty quickly too as many marine species have high reproductive rates. Many countries in Europe, including the UK, have bulked…

EU action plan on seabirds begins

An action plan to reduce an estimated 200,000 sea-bird deaths a year due to the European fisheries industry has been adopted today. The new action plan will apply to EU registered fishing vessels where-ever they operate in the world and to non-EU vessels operating in EU waters. It is hoped that the new action plan will reduce the number of sea birds caught up in fishing gear and will help protect bird populations – some of the species are at high risk of regional extinction as a consequence of the fishing industry. Bird species which will benefit from the new action include:  albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, auks, sea ducks and divers. While…