BirdLife Europe e-news, Vol XI, Issue 4, April 2015

And for once...
good news

By Luca Bonaccorsi

Nature lovers do not get to celebrate very often these days. Unsustainable economic activities, either driven by vested interests or ignorance, are destroying nature at alarming rates. Most habitats and species we know of are suffering. Apart from those that we've managed to protect, the few successes we've had are now endangered by a renewed ideological drive for deregulation and the myth of “green tape”.
This is the difficult context in which some of us, an apparent paradox, have been confronting a new challenge: unsustainable renewables. It has not been easy to oppose renewable energy sources at a time when holes for hydrocarbons are being drilled, even in natural sanctuaries, and signs of climate change are increasingly evident. And yet this has been the case with first generation biofuels.

Despite early warnings, policy makers have indulged in funding this new, falsely sustainable, booming sector. Many forests have been cut down and converted into palm oil plantations, and grasslands have been ploughed to produce rapeseed and maize. The new demand for biomass, largely triggered by tax breaks, has attracted huge investments and displaced food production and natural habitats. 

From the field to the tank, the naïve dream of feeding our SUVs and power plants with colourful flowers, seeds and “greenery” has revealed its fallacious nature. Here in Europe, it has taken 5 years of political battles and the accumulation of extensive studies on the impact of these practices to produce a change in culture.

But the change has arrived. Today, as Trees Robijns explains, Europe has turned its back on unsustainable biofuels and moves forward. The deal struck in the ENVI Committee is far from ideal and still needs to be sealed in plenary at the end of the month, but its political meaning is very clear: a phase is closed, an era ends. This decision will have far reaching implications, also outside Europe. 

The old continent is now a large importer of biomass but this decision is sending a clear message across the planet: the future is elsewhere. Investors and policy makers beware. 
In this issue
• EU Policy news             
• Partnership stories
• Events I Jobs
EU Policy news
Bye Bye (bad) Biofuels
Europe has turned its back on bad biofuels and placed the first footsteps in the sand for where it wants to go next. This week, the Environmental Committee signed off on the ILUC deal with the Council, and so 5 years of discussion about biofuels are over. In taking this decision, the committee has sacrificed a hell of a lot on its original position but the tone is now set for the years to come: Europe will no longer support first generation biofuels and will begin to draw the first elements of its future sustainable transport policy. By Trees Robijns
Simplification”? Not the solution for European agriculture
"Simplification" is one of President Juncker’s dubious buzzwords. In the era of “deregulation” it effectively translates to more and more exemptions which allow farmers and land managers to not deliver for nature. The horror story in France proves it: maize monocolture will be considered “green”. Signed & approved by the Juncker Commission. t.r,
Judging EU policies: a closer look at the EEA's State of the Environment Report
One way to find out if the EU’s environment is getting a passing grade is to check out the European Environment Agency's (EEA) 5 year State of the Environment Report. The verdict? A mixed bag. One thing is unequivocal: we get a failing grade when it comes to biodiversity (the variety of plant and animal species that share the planet with us). By Wouter Langhout
Why the Emissions Trading Scheme damages nature
Imagine a grassland rich in diverse life with flowers, butterflies and birds. Imagine that grassland being ploughed and covered in pesticides to enhance the yield of a maize field. Why? It's not because corn has become popular. It's because according to current EU policies, the corn that will be used for the production of energy is "carbon neutral".  By Sini Eräjää
European Parliament makes the right move for Baltic fisheries
We fish too much, often in the wrong places and the wrong time of the year. And whilst doing it we slaughter an incredible number of non-commercial fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Recently some good news, one of the few on this issue, has come from the European Parliament. On March 31st 2015, Members of the Fisheries Committee voted in favour of attaining Good Environmental Status (GES) of our seas. By Bruna Campos
Partnership activities and success stories

Malta misses a chance to end spring hunting of birds

On Saturday 12th April, Maltese citizens lost the opportunity to put an end to the controversial spring hunting of birds in their country during a national referendum. A decision that will have consequences for bird conservation across Europe and beyond. Read more...

A Hot Race for Bird Conservation

Nearly 24 hours side by side, some of the world’s finest birders competed against each other in Israel, in a hot race to raise money for bird conservation. On March 25th, 135 birders took to the field for the 2nd  Champion of the Flyway Race. It was one of the most incredible events that any of us ever took part in. Read more...

Kiko and Kuki, bird’s best friends, need your help!

Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend, but in Greece, a couple of very special dogs are helping birds and wildlife too. Kiko and Kuki are trained to find poison baits and poisoned carcasses before animals feed on them, saving their lives. Read more...

21 May 2015, Rome: Leaving is Living Conference on Illegal Killing of Birds, hosted by LIPU.

January - June 2015: Latvian Presidency of the EU. Learn more about BirdLife Europe' s recommendations for a successful Presidency on our website.

Biodiversity Conservation Officer
We are seeking to appoint a Biodiversity Conservation Officer to lead the development and implementation of the Americas Preventing Extinction Programme (in line with the Americas Regional Programme and the overall BirdLife Global Strategy 2014–2020) and the technical aspects of the species components of BirdLife’s programmes and projects in the Americas. More details

• Closing date: 20 April 2015

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