Luxembourgh Times

Use EU agriculture funds to protect nature, group says

As much as 80% of wild plants and animals in the country are under threat

A little bittern, one of Luxembourg's rarest birds

A little bittern, one of Luxembourg's rarest birds © Photo credit: Raymond Gloden

Reuben Malekar

Luxembourg should stop spending EU funds on farming without protecting nature, a government advisory body said on Tuesday, pointing out that as much as 80% of wild plants and animals in the country are under threat.

About two-thirds of Luxembourg's nature is in poor shape, a report by the Observatory of the Natural Environment said, underscoring the need to spend the €570 million Luxembourg received in EU agriculture subsidies over a five-year period on projects that avoid harm to nature.

"The window to stabilize biodiversity (loss) in Luxembourg is closing more and more", a press release by the environmental agency said.

Wild plants and animals - especially birds - are becoming increasingly rare, the report said, while losses of vulnerable habitats such as wetlands and lowland meadows have rapidly accelerated over the 2017-2021 period.

Luxembourg's national plan to protect nature is a good policy tool to bring about a reversal, but only if "protection areas could be designated more quickly," the report said. Luxembourg should channel the funds it receives from Europe's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards at least 30% of grasslands and 25-30% of arable lands in order to stop the loss of biodiversity.

The building of more roads and train tracks, ongoing urbanisation and water and air pollution are other problems causing a loss of biodiversity.

The CAP undermines the objectives of the EU Green Deal - designed to ensure the bloc becomes climate neutral by 2050 – environmentalists say, as it does not go far enough in ensuring emissions are reduced in one of the economic sectors that pollutes the most and fails to address a loss of biodiversity.