The European Red List, a part of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, in its report published on 22 November assessed that a considerable portion of Europe’s native fauna and flora now fall into the threatened category.
The assessment of some 6,000 species reveals that 44% of all freshwater molluscs, 37% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 20% of a selection of terrestrial molluscs, 19% of reptiles, 15% of mammals and of dragonflies, 13% of birds, 11% of a selection of saproxylic beetles, 9% of butterflies, and 467 species of vascular plant species are now under threat.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik underlined that the well-being of people depends on the goods and services that nature provides. “If we don’t address the reasons behind this decline and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed," he said.
Freshwater molluscs are the most threatened group assessed with the Spengler’s Freshwater Mussel currently listed as Critically Endangered, and nearly extinct in the 1980s. The species is one of two for which a European-level Action Plan was designed, and there are ongoing conservation programmes which allow hope for its future.
European Red List IUCN Co-ordinator Annabelle Cuttelod warned that "the European freshwater ecosystems are really under serious threats that require urgent conservation action".
Freshwater fish are also highly threatened, especially as a result of pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the introduction of alien species. Particularly risky is the position of European sturgeon, with all but one of the eight European species now 'Critically Endangered'.