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The Carpathian Mountains © kirandulo

Europe’s wildlife under threat from environmental crime


Environmental crime is putting European biodiversity and livelihoods at serious risk, a new report has warned.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Eurac Research, the Danube River Basin and Carpathian Mountains are being increasingly threatened by illegal logging and the illegal caviar trade.

The region, which stretches over 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, is also under attack from the mass-killing of wild birds and the poaching of bears, wolves and lynx.

This is despite the area being protected by European and international environmental legislation.

The Danube River Basin is home to Europe’s last remaining viable populations of sturgeons. But the trade of illegally harvested caviar – which is worth a minimum of €22m a year to the EU – has already seen one species of Danube sturgeon go extinct and left another four critically endangered.

Between 11 and 36 million birds are meanwhile being illegally taken or killed in the Mediterranean each year.

“The looting of these natural resources undermines development and deprives governments of the money they need to promote jobs, education and health services,” said Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment.

“These resources should rather be a solid foundation for future generations.”

To this end, the report authors recommend increasing inter-agency collaboration within countries and co-operation between the states of the region on data sharing and law enforcement.

They are also calling for new measures to increase the likelihood of cases being successfully brought to court and offenders penalised, as well as a greater implementation push for the 2016 EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.

The report, ‘Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime in the Danube-Carpathian Region,’ can be read in full via the UN Environment website.

Pan European Networks Ltd