The European bison is one of the continent's most vulnerable species. Photo: Neil McIntosh / Creative Commons.
Hunted in the first half of the 20th century and driven out of their habitat since then by rampant coastal development and overfishing in Greece and Turkey, the highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal is just one of hundreds of European animal species threatened with extinction, the European Union warned recently."Biodiversity is in crisis, with species extinctions running at unparalleled rates," said a statement from the European Union's Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik. Up to a quarter of all animal species native to the European continent are believed to be at risk.
Just 300 Iberian Lynx Left
The Mediterranean monk seal, one of the world's most endangered marine species, is down to an estimated 600 individual animals, while the woodlands and pastures of southern Spain shelter just 300 Iberian lynx. According to the Associated Press:
The threatened species include mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and butterflies. Plant life is under threat as well. The crisis is due to several factors, including loss of habitat, pollution, alien species encroachment, climate change, and overfishing.
Not Enough Funding For Protection
Though the European Union has raised the alarm about the threat to the continent's species, critics say its proposed solutions -- including "halting the loss of species in the European Union countries by 2020, putting management plans in place for all forests, restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems, [and] controlling invasive species" -- are not backed by the money needed to carry them out.
The EU strategy "appears to fall short of delivering what is needed to protect Europe's valuable natural resource base," said the European Environmental Bureau, an umbrella group of environmental organizations. The European Commission has promised to reassess the funding issue.
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