Better than an octopus? We’ll see…

With Euro 2012 now under way our minds will turn to football – won’t they? 13 of the 16 teams are members of the EU and therefore have designated sites as Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive and Special Areas of Conservation under the Habitats Directive.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]After the last World Cup where a German octopus seemed as good at picking the winners of matches as most football pundits, it’s time to see whether performance on the football field reflects performance in protecting fields, marshes, woodlands, estuaries etc.

Here is the list of countries in order of their % coverage of terrestrial area under Natura 2000 sites (Spain has the most) and with their odds to win the tournament too:

Spain (27%)           3/1

Greece (27%)        100/1

Portugal (21%)      20/1

Poland (19%)      50/1

Italy (19%)        18/1

Germany (15%)     7/2

Czech Rep (14%)      100/1

Sweden (14%)     66/1

Netherlands (14%)     15/2

RoI (13%)    100/1

France (13%)   10/1

Denmark (9%)  100/1

UK (7%)   14/1

Russia (N/A)   20/1

Croatia (N/A)   66/1

Ukraine (N/A)    66/1


We’ll see.  But in any case it’s quite an interesting list isn’t it? UK – the ‘least green man in Europe’ on this basis.


7 Replies to “Better than an octopus? We’ll see…”

  1. I guess that to some extent one has to take into account the fact that the UK is a much more densely populated country than some of the others so there is more pressure on the land. However, the comparison with the Netherlands is telling in that respect as it is even more densely populated than the UK but still manages twice the coverage of Natura 2000 sites so whichever way you look at it we are undeniably poor. Incidentally you appear to have missed France (12.5%) and Denmark (8.9%) from your list but adding them in still leaves us bottom of the list.

  2. It is an interesting list but for heavens sake, please keep it away from Gideon Osbourne and his multitude of advisers. Given that back in November, the Black Chancellor expressed the view that the Habitat Regulations were acting as a brake on our economy, it does concern me that one look at this list and the presence of Greece, Spain and Portugal at top, with Italy not far behind, may confirm his worst fears about the impact of the EU Habitat Directive on economic growth.

    Total nonsense of course, no politician would be so foolish….would they George ?

    Ps – why are France not on the list ?

    1. Joe – yes I did hesitate for that reason but you are right – how could anyone be so stupid?

      Thanks for pointing out that I had ignored France, which is sometimes a good idea, but in this case an oversight, which is now corrected thanks to you.

  3. It depends what you mean by a ‘protected area’. Spain may be top of the list but have you been to Doñana lately? Designating areas isn’t the same as protecting them.
    I used to think that the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive were two of the very few plus points that have arisen from our membership of the EU. But like so much else in Europe they can be applied selectively. The figures might look good but the reality is rather different.
    Incidentally, I don’t make this point to in any way defend the record of the UK.

    1. PeterD – I wish I had been to Donana recently – it would be fantastic at this time of year! I’m guessing, but you might be referring to the impacts of water abstraction by agriculture? If so, see my blog of 30 May for the same type of issue in the UK. Welcome, and thank you for your comment.

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