A recent Flash Eurobarometer survey on the “Attitudes towards biodiversity” may offer a clear message that the majority of EU citizens do not favour measures that undermine the conservation of Europe’s natural treasury.
According to the Flash Eurobarometer 379, which was published earlier in November, “[r]oughly three quarters of Europeans totally agree that the EU should better inform citizens about the importance of biodiversity (72%). Approximately two thirds of Europeans totally agree that the EU should increase the areas where nature is protected in Europe (65%).
Around six in ten Europeans totally agree that the EU should ensure that subsidies to sectors like agriculture andfisheries also take account of biodiversity (63%), that the EU should promote research on the impact of biodiversity loss (59%), or that the EU should allocate more financial resources to nature protection in Europe (59%). More than half of Europeans (54%) also totally agree
that the EU should create financial rewards for farmers of fishermen for nature conservation.”
The survey also records a slight increase, compared to 2010, in the belief that damage to protected areas is acceptable because economic development is more important. This percentage however remains low: 9% in 2013 and 6% in 2010.
It is important to note that respondents from crisis-hit member states appear more concerned about biodiversity loss: in Spain, 56% state that economic development should not result in damage or destruction of protected areas, compared to a 45% EU-27 average. In Portugal, response to the same question was 58%, in Greece 54% and 52% in Bulgaria.
It is also important to note that compared to a 59% EU-27 average, a stark majority of respondents from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria state they totally agree that Europe should allocate more financial resources to nature protection in Europe: 85% in Romania, 82% in Greece, 79% in Bulgaria, 74% in Portugal, 68% in Spain, 63% in Italy. These six member states host important biodiversity treasures and almost half of Europe’s Natura 2000 network. As reported in WWF’s Crisis Watch, since the beginning of the economic crisis, nature in these countries has been undergoing unprecedented pressures for unsustainable development, primarily for large constructions, mining and fossil fuel extraction.