BRUSSELS – The link between agriculture and nature is a contested arena in Europe. Over the past decades, the European Union has become one of the leading producers and exporters of agricultural products in the world. But this has come at a great cost for Europe’s ecosystems.

More than 80% of habitats in the continent are in poor condition. Even though there are many reasons to blame, agricultural expansion has been pointed out as the main cause of the degradation of ecosystems.
According to the European Environment Agency, agricultural activities - such as intensification, fragmentation, and abandonment - represent the most common pressure group across habitats and species, with 21% of all reported pressures. In addition, around 50% of all problems related to pollution and biodiversity loss are mainly a consequence of air, water, and soil pollution caused by agriculture.
This project documents the impact of intensive agriculture in some key protected areas in Europe, notably the Nature 2000 network, through data and field reporting. The investigation shows how the implementation of the European legislation on environment protection often fails to curb the impacts of agriculture, with specific cases in Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany.
This is particularly important now that the future of the Nature Restoration Law, a key piece of European legislation that would restore 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030, is uncertain due to the opposition of some Member States and that the greening measures of the Common Agriculture Policy are being relaxed.
Photo: Adri Salido.
Team members

Katharina Nickoleit

Katharina Nickoleit is a freelance journalist covering environment and global health.

Katharina Nickoleit

Laura Villadiego

Laura Villadiego is a freelance journalist, based in Madrid, Spain. 

Laura Villadiego

Adri Salido

Adria Salido Zarco is a photojournalist based in Aljezur, Portugal.

Adria Salido Zarco
€20,900 allocated on 28/08/2023



  • France
  • Germany
  • Portugal 
  • Spain


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