A newly released Eurobaromter survey, conducted in late 2018, explored the awareness of biodiversity in the EU nations, as well as perceptions of threats to biodiversity and possible recourses to deter it. The Brussels-based firm Kantar Public carried out the survey in 28 EU states for the European Commission (EC), interviewing over 27,500 respondents from different social and demographic groups.

In total, 71% of respondents knew about the term “biodiversity” and two in five said they understood its meaning (Sweden was highest: 73%). 45% felt that legislation should prohibit the destruction of nature in protected natural areas, while just as many stated that this acceptable only for projects that can prove to be of ”major public interest.“ In ten countries, majorities responded that economic activity that caused damage to protected areas should be banned. Portugal (68%), Malta (63%), Italy (60%), and Cyprus (59%) led the way.

According to EC analysts, the survey shows that “Europeans place very high value on nature and biodiversity and they are concerned over its loss, with awareness increasing since 2015.“ But it bemoans the fact that very few know of the existence of its own Natura 2000 program. Only three in ten people polled knew about the EC’s flagship conservation project.

Majorities claimed that biodiversity is “very much threatened“ by pollution (67%), man-made disasters (63%), and finally climate change (58%). Those polled claimed that the most important actions for the EU to take is to restore nature and biodiversity where they’ve been ruined and improve the commication of the problem to citizens about the importance of biodiversity.

More than 60% of those polled agree that “our health and well-being are based upon nature and biodiversity", and that biodiversity and nature are significant to economic development.

The respondents considered pollution and man-made disasters the greatest threats to biodiversity.

[Text by Paul Hockenos]