“I am proud to support the development of the European Red List of Species. Excellent work!” With these words EU Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik addressed a red crowd gathered for the launch of the European Red List on 21 November at the Berlaymont building in Brussels. To show their commitment to biodiversity participants were asked to wear something red.
The situation which many European species face today calls for more action to protect and conserve our precious natural heritage – so fundamental for our own survival and well-being. The latest data of the European Red List leave no doubt: many species groups in Europe (mammals, amphibians, butterflies and more) are in need for more protection. See more on the latest assessments.
EU Commissioner Potočnik stressed the importance of the European Red List for policy-makers “Too often we take nature for granted and we forget how valuable it is. […] Thanks to the work of IUCN we have a database that provides sound scientific data that will allow us to assess the status and trends of species and habitants in the European Union. These data together with the information provided by Members States will allow us over time to measure progress and asses if our policies on nature and biodiversity are on the right track.”
“The latest findings on the state of biodiversity are truly alarming and clearly make the case for stepping up strategy and action in Europe and beyond. The IUCN Red List, whether at the national, regional or global level provide clear and quantified evidence of the state and demise of endangered species” underlined Gordon McInnes, Deputy Director, European Environment Agency (EEA) “I am pleased to work with IUCN on developing the knowledge base for biodiversity including indicators to track progress and show where assessment and action should be focused.”
“The data provided by the European Red List serve also to show where progress is made. “With the Red List we can also highlight the successes of well-designed conservation measures – many species protected under the EU Habitats Directive and included in the Natura 2000 protected area network have actually improved their chances of survival. Conservation works! We just need more of it! We call the European Union to continue acting for nature” said Dr Hans Friederich, IUCN Regional Director for Europe.
MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Rapporteur for Biodiversity at the European Parliament stressed the need to reconnect people to nature “Thinking of nature and biodiversity I always think of a small child and I see the fascination in the eyes of a child for nature, it is incredible, I am sure you have all witnessed it. It is some sort of natural fascination with nature that children do have. So seeing that and how responsible people (or they should be, influential people) behave with our natural environment, I always ask myself, where did it go wrong? […] Let’s use this Red List and let’s try to awake this natural fascination that small children have again in the people who are deciding on this very important issue.”
Charlie Dunmore, EU Correspondent at Reuters, presented the challenge of communicating biodiversity to the general public “The problem is partly one of language. Let’s be brutally honest, the word biodiversity is about as interesting as quantitative easing to many people […]. We have to try and keep our language as direct and as relevant to everyday people as we can when we try to communicate the issue. […] Rather than talking about the risk of an 80% drop in biodiversity, […] we should be talking more about the risk of being surrounded by dead seas, and oceans empty of fish and other life, or walking in silent forests devoid of birds or looking out of empty plains where there are no animals or plants to be seen.”