Biofuel expansion threatens Europe’s wildlife as agricultural set-asides are to be scrapped
For immediate release -; 13th August 2007
Joint Press Release by Biofuelwatch, EcoInternet and Rainforest Rescue
Millions of farm birds could be left without enough food and breeding sites next spring if plans to scrap Europe's agricultural land set-aside targets for next year go ahead, warn environmental groups. Plans to set a zero set-aside targets from October this year have been announced by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Mariann Fischer-Boel, as a response to rising food prices. Those plans are to be ratified by ministers this autumn. Several studies confirm that set-asides have become a vital habitat for many of Europe's endangered birds and insects, and that farm birds have declined by nearly 50% on average since 1980. Over 5300 people have written to European politicians this month, asking for the plans to be dropped and supporting a moratorium on biofuel targets.
Glen Barry, Director of EcoInternet explains: "Dramatic declines in insect, bird and wild flower populations show that many of Europe's ecosystems are under extreme stress from intensive agriculture and climate change. Our future depends on protecting healthy ecosystems. We need real cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, with massive cuts in energy use as well as truly sustainable renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. More intensively farmed monocultures cannot be part of the solution."
Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch adds "There is no doubt that the expansion in biofuels is pushing up food prices. The European Union are committed to stopping biodiversity losses by 2010 but those plans will almost certainly make this impossible. Our birds and insects must not be sacrificed for biofuel expansion. We need a moratorium on EU biofuel targets and incentives now -; and we need to keep our set asides until they can be replaced with better environmental safeguards."
Few environmental NGOs regard the current set-aside system, as being the ideal instrument for protecting farmland biodiversity, although it provides a safety net for many species. Many NGOs hope that a