In the recently issued "State of Nature in the EU" report, 77 percent of habitats and 60 percent of species were assessed as being in an "unfavourable" situation. About a third of bird species in Europe were found to be threatened or declining, while only about half were assessed as being "secure." According to the report, this is due in part to the intensification of agriculture, which involves mechanized tilling of large swathes with a single crop, destroys habitat that many species rely on. Increased use of pesticides has also affected species.
Ronan Uhel of the European Environment Agency pointed out how intensive agriculture is depleting the very land itself. Broad application of pesticides and herbicides required for such farming has led to a loss of biodiversity within soils. "We are losing the richness and diversity of the arable land."
Conservationists have for some time been seeking to draw attention to the need to make agriculture more sustainable. "We have to be a lot smarter about agricultural development - large extensions of intensive monoculture are not the answer," said Patricia Zurita, who is the CEO of BirdLife International. "It's not only birds: pollinators too, like butterflies and bees - intensive agriculture is actually collapsing the system,"