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IP/10/596

Brussels, 21 May 2010

World Biodiversity Day: Thousands connect with nature through EU campaign

Tomorrow is World Biodiversity Day and despite efforts around the globe, studies show that biodiversity – the rich variety of life on this planet – is diminishing at a startling rate. An innovative EU campaign to highlight this message is engaging thousands of people across the European Union and beyond. The campaign website has already received more than half a million visits, while over 56,000 people have shown their support for the campaign on Facebook. The Commission is marking World Biodiversity Day with a series of events in six focus countries: Spain, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Italy.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "It is good to see how this campaign is capturing people's imagination. We must keep up the momentum and translate this interest into real action and real policies. to safeguard the rich variety of life on Earth."

Campaign captures public attention

People of all ages are connecting with nature through the biodiversity campaign's interactive website and social media. In the first six weeks of the campaign the website, which is available in all EU languages, registered more than 550,000 page views with the number growing daily. Some 56,000 people from more than 120 countries have declared their support on the biodiversity Facebook pages.

Built around the slogan, ‘Biodiversity – we are all in this together’, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the problem of biodiversity loss and show the implications of these losses in our daily lives.

The campaign has an educational component that reveals the benefits biodiversity brings, and stresses in particular the idea of ecosystem services and the dangers of their disappearance. The theme that returns repeatedly is the idea of connectivity and interdependence.

The latest element to be added is a powerful video clip which sends a stark message about the urgent need for action. The clip aims to highlight how the loss of any link in the chain of life, however insignificant it may appear, can upset the whole balance of nature.

The campaign has a special focus on countries where action is considered especially useful. Successful launches have taken place in Spain, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Italy with PR actions and street art. Family activity events will also take place in all six focus countries as part of World Biodiversity Day celebrations.

From awareness to action

As well as raising awareness, the campaign is also focusing on making citizens more aware of the role they can play in slowing and preventing biodiversity loss. This aims to get people doing something – on their own or in projects – to protect and care for nature.

The website is already actively engaging the public in learning about how we are interconnected with nature. As well as making friends with living organisms and species, members of the public can also create a biodiversified image of themselves on Facebook.

The hope is that by discovering more about the natural world which we so often take for granted, we will learn to take greater care of it.

A new viewer for Natura 2000

The European Commission, with the support of the European Environment Agency (EEA), has launched a new IT tool to bring the public closer to Natura 2000, its flagship network of protected areas.

Natura 2000 is the key instrument to protect biodiversity in the European Union. It is the largest ecological network of protected areas in the world, consisting of more than 25, 000 sites and covering 17% of the EU's land territory. Natura 2000 aims to ensure the survival of Europe's most valuable species and habitats, and safeguards numerous ecosystem services.

Using GIS (Geographical Information System) technology, the interactive viewer allows users to locate sites and related information on species and habitats of interest, using street maps, photographs, satellite imagery and background documents about the regions in question. The tool should raise awareness among the general public, and provides a useful instrument for developers, land use planners, landowners, government authorities, NGOs and researchers. For further information and to use the viewer, visit http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/index_en.htm

Campaign website and video clip: www.weareallinthistogether.eu


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