Europe, and indeed the world, is facing a colossal challenge: how can we protect our precious ecosystems and maintain the services which we depend on? Accompanying the development of a comprehensive green infrastructure strategy, the EU is working hard to preserve and develop the myriad green areas that comprise Europe’s ‘green infrastructure’. By doing so, both the health and quality of life enjoyed by EU citizens will be improved.
With around 80% of the EU’s population now living in towns or cities, and with the spectre of climate change looming large, taking care of the vital green infrastructure that connects and breathes life into urban and rural habitats has never been more important. Green infrastructure can be defined as a strategically planned network of high-quality green spaces and environmental features. The concept includes work on issues such as recreation, green spaces, climate change mitigation, halting species decline, the use of land resources, water delivery, resistance to natural disaster and much more.
In this engaging Video News Release (VNR), viewers are presented with some of the forward-thinking, practical measures being taken by the EU and Europe’s cities to ensure that the environment becomes an equal partner in Europe’s success and not a victim of it. Two main projects are examined:
- The UrbanBees project in Lyon (France) which is designed to halt a decline in the wild bee population that threatens agriculture and the environment;
- A Natura 2000 site in Latvia which aims to protect endangered species such as the fire-bellied toad and the European smooth snake.
Achieving thriving biodiversity throughout the EU is vital to addressing numerous challenges of the modern age, from climate change adaptation and mitigation to long-term economic stability. Something as seemingly harmless as the decline in bee populations, for example, could have a negative economic impact on agriculture exceeding EUR 20 billion a year. Such problems and many others potentially affect each and every citizen and are very real, current issues to be tackled.
In terms of the benefits, from a social perspective, around 83 % more people engage in social activity in green spaces than urban spaces, contributing to social cohesion. Moreover, the prevalence of green spaces and parks has been linked to increased life expectancy and a reduction in chronic disease such as high blood pressure, arthritis and even certain types of cancer.
A B-Roll will also accompany the release of the VNR.
Note for editors
In May 2011 the European Commission adopted an ambitious Biodiversity Strategy which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity in the EU by 2020. Target 2 of this Strategy states that ‘by 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15% of degraded ecosystems’.
The projects filmed in Lyon (France) and Latvia are both LIFE programmes managed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment. LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU, as well as in some candidate, acceding and neighbouring countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 3708 projects, contributing approximately EUR 2.8 billion to the protection of the environment.
Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of EU nature and biodiversity policy. It is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.