CAMBRIDGE, UK, May 11, 2004
(ENS): Birds in the expanded European Union of 25 countries
may experience serious problems in the new member states that joined
the bloc on May 1. The danger to wildlife and rural landscapes is
EU agricultural policy, the bird conservation group BirdLife International
The new member states - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - will bring
to the EU flowery meadows, diverse farmland habitats and a wealth
of plants and animals.
Many farmland bird species that are now uncommon in much of western
Europe are still widespread in most of the new Eastern European member
states. The eight mainland accession countries will bring more than
76,000 pairs of white storks Ciconia ciconia to the EU. Currently,
there are just 5,700 pairs in northwest Europe.
But intensive agriculture has already decimated farmland birds in
the first 15 EU countries, and no real strategy is in place in the
new member states to prevent wildlife from being swept away by the
implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) says.
"We urgently need to avoid the same mistakes in the new
member states," said Giovanna Pisano, Agriculture Task Force
coordinator with BirdLife.
Hungary and Poland are home to several birds threatened with global
extinction, including the great bustard Otis tarda, the Corncrake
Crex crex; and the Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola.
"Supporting and training farmers to understand wildlife needs
will be a crucial step," said Clairie Papazoglou, who heads BirdLife's
European Community Office.
BirdLife is now lobbying for more Common Agricultural Policy funds
to be allocated to protecting and creating wildlife rich areas in
the new member states.