Natura 2000 newsletter - Europe`s plants under threat


Courtesy of European Commission, Environment DG

Plants are vital to almost every aspect of our daily lives. They provide us with food, fibres, medicines, fuel, shelter, clothing and even the air we breathe. Many animal species are also directly dependent on plants for their survival. Plants are essential constituents of ecosystems and a key to the Earth’s environmental equilibrium and stability.
Europe is blessed with a high level of diversity, but, despite their undeniable importance, plants everywhere are under threat. Some 21% of Europe’s vascular plant species (flowering plants, conifers and ferns) are classified as threatened according to the IUCN. Half of the continent’s 4,700 vascular plant endemics are in danger of extinction and 64 have already become extinct. In a number of European countries more than two thirds of the existing plant habitat types are endangered. Major land-use changes from agriculture and forestry, habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation, direct impacts by economic activities, invasive plant species, and now climate change, are all rapidly eroding our plant communities.
The EU is firmly committed to halting the loss of Europe’s biodiversity, including endangered plant species, and to restoring habitats and natural systems. A clear action plan to this end is identified in the Commission’s Communication on “Halting the Loss of Biodiversity by 2010 and Beyond”. The implementation of the Natura 2000 network, which aims to maintain habitats and species in a favourable conservation status, is critical in achieving this.

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