MEPs respond to call to protect Europe's wilderness

Environment - 04-02-2009 - 11:48
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View of a solitary grey or timber wolf (Canis lupus). The grey wolf is found mainly in North America and in Asia, although there are residual populations in Mexico and Europe.  ©BELGA/wer

We need to keep a sharp eye on our endangered wilderness say MEPs

Only 1% of Europe is untouched by humans and everything must be done to preserve what is still out there for the future. That's the message in a report by Hungarian Socialist MEP Gyula Hegyi backed by MEPs Tuesday.

The importance of protecting Europe's wilderness in the future against climate change is one of the key aspects stressed by the report. It calls for greater mapping of such areas to enable threats to be detected.
It also calls for responsible tourism that will not damage such areas and greater use of the EU's existing "Natura 2000" programme to protect such areas. At present 13% of the forest zone of the 27-member EU is designated as Natura 2000 sites under the existing Birds and Habitats directive.
The report also calls for more European funding to protect existing sites and "re-wild" ones that are currently being used by humans or agriculture.
Northern Sweden, Finland - large protected areas
The largest protected areas in Europe are in the north of Sweden and Finland whilst Slovenia and Bulgaria have the largest share of their country protected.
Other protected areas include the shores of the British Isles and the Danish and German coasts. Gyula Hegyi says he initiated the report in the hope that protection of wildlife will be embedded into existing European legislation. "We have moral obligation to ensure future generations can enjoy and benefit from Europe's real wild areas," he says.
"Wilderness" is defined by Mr Hegyi's report as "a natural environment that has not been significantly modified by human activity".
REF.: 20090202STO47940