Europe today is already home to the most extensive network of protected areas in the world. Natura 2000 was established in 1992 and currently consists of 27,000 terrestrial and marine sites. These cover 18% of the Union’s territory, a figure that reaches up to 35% in the Balkan Peninsula. Protected marine areas cover a total of 440,000 sq km, half of which distributed between France (132,000 sq km) and Spain (84,000 sq km).
Over the course of the next ten years, the EU Commission promises to plant 3 billion trees for 30% of Europe’s territory – and the same proportion of its seas to become protected areas with much stricter regulations on the protection and restoration of forests. By eliminating barriers that impede the passage of migrating fish and improving sediment flows, at least 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers will also be restored.
This decade started with tackling a pandemic that is raising awareness of the links between our own health and the health of ecosystems. When restarting the economy, it is crucial to avoid falling back and locking ourselves into damaging old habits. The European Green Deal – the EU’s growth strategy – will be the compass for our recovery, ensuring that the economy serves people and society and gives back to nature more than it takes away.
These ambitious goals are not enough if each of us does not take care of ourselves and our daily actions. Adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle and mobility, use renewables, eat local organic vegan food, reduce, reuse, recycle, ditch plastic!
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