GENEVA - One in six European land mammals faces the threat of extinction, mainly through habitat loss and deforestation, a leading conservation group said on Tuesday.
For marine mammals, the figure is higher at nearly one in four, but even this could be an underestimate because insufficient information is available on 44 percent of European marine mammal species, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) said.
In a report for the European Union, the IUCN said the Balkans and particularly Bulgaria and Romania are the most affected by declining land mammals, principally because they are also home to the greatest number of species.
"The results of the report highlight the challenge we currently face to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010," said European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, referring to a commitment EU states made in 2002.
Six European mammals, including the Iberian lynx, the Arctic fox and the European mink, are already included on the IUCN's regularly updated "red list" of endangered species.
Habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation or wetland drainage, posed the main threats to terrestrial mammals, followed by pollution and over-harvesting, the report said.
For marine species, the main threats came from pollution, ship collisions and being accidentally caught by commercial fishing boats, the report said.
Story Date: 23/5/2007