Many plants and animals in Europe are threatened with extinction. International research shows that of the nearly 15,000 plants and animals examined, nearly 20 percent are at risk of extinction.
In addition, plants and invertebrates such as insects and mollusks are more threatened than vertebrates. According to researchers, the main reason is the expansion and intensification of agriculture, which causes the disappearance of many species, especially plants and insects.
Other causes include large-scale fishing, construction activities and pollution. They also expect climate change to also have a negative impact on species diversity in the coming years.
For years, red lists have been used to monitor the extinction risk of various animal and plant species. In Europe this occurs in 14,669 species. Red lists have been compiled by researchers from species organizations from all over Europe. It shows that 2,839 (19 percent) of the species examined are threatened with extinction.
The number of threatened species is highest in the Alps and in parts of the Balkans and Spain. Only half of the endangered animals are found in a nature reserve. Researchers question the suitability of the European network of protected areas for endangered animals. They believe that nature’s network should be expanded and improved.
Forest fires and drought
Climate change can negatively affect species diversity in several ways. Drought and high temperatures can kill plants and animals, as can increasingly severe wildfires. In addition, species may be suppressed by competing plants and animals advancing from south to north.
From the Netherlands, researchers from Naturalis, the Butterfly Foundation and Floron, which conducts research on Dutch wild plants, contributed to the overview article.
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