Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on June 2, 2008
Once again, Europe is leading the way. This time in terms of having a coherent and active biodiversity protection program in place. It began in the late 1970s with a focus on protecting bird habitats and gained momentum in 1992 by expanding to sensitive areas (including seas) and including the term biodiversity, the immense variety of life that inhabits the earth.
The program recently gained the support of newer member nations to add an area roughly the size of the Netherlands as protected areas. New areas include 18 sites in Poland alone. Other areas set aside are located in Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Malta, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. In total, almost 20% of Europe’s land mass is protected under Futura 2000 as well as over 100,000 square kilometers of its seas.
Where does that leave the U.S., behind! While we once led the world in recognizing the value in leaving some areas untouched, that policy has increasingly come under attack from those who believe that public land is to be used for resources (think Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for example). By contrast, the EU notices that “protected nature areas do not exist and certainly cannot thrive in isolation from the rest of the land. We need to ensure that our agriculture as well as our regional, energy and transport policies are sustainable.”
What we don’t seem to realize is that preserving the natural state of our public lands provides more economic benefit than “using” the land for resource extraction. Anyone who lives near a National Park will tell you of the economic benefits that closing off can provide. No new parkland.
Too bad we didn’t get to Tahoe sooner.
Check out the Natura 2000 website for more info.