Europe seeks to put stop to loss of biodiversity by 2010

Europe seeks to put stop to loss of biodiversity by 2010 Athens - The European Commission will seek to put a stop to the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the start of a biodiversity conference in Athens Monday.

The two days of talks in Athens attended by 230 environmental chiefs, trade associations, non-governmental organizations and lobby groups, have found a new momentum following a G8-Plus charter to protect biodiversity adopted on April 24 by environmental ministers from Group of Eight members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The 25-point G8 Syracuse Charter explicitly links safeguarding biodiversity to the fight against global warming.

The G8 charter also urges raised awareness that "ecosystems provide a steady flow of goods and services - by providing clean drinking water, pollinating crops and decomposing waste.

Climate change, land use change, habitat destruction, pollution and waste disposal all pose a growing threat to biodiversity at a time when most of Europe's species and habitats are at the risk of extinction.

There is growing evidence that the decline of ecosystems and species is continuing despite the progress made with the establishment of the Natura 2000 network, the largest network of protected areas in the world.

"The protection of biodiversity lacks sanctions, legislative muscle and political will," said Tony Long, the Brussels director of conservation group WWF.

According to EC President Barroso, the European Union's objective of stopping biodiversity loss will be met by "implementing existing legislation such as the Birds and Habitats Directives, completing the network of protected areas in Europe and agreeing on new policies to address deforestation and to reduce the EU's ecological footprint." (dpa)