More Austrian habitat protection demanded

WWF launches campaign to secure protected status for 63 sites under EU's Natura 2000

Austrian environmentalists have demanded that 63 natural sites be given protection under the umbrella of the EU's Natura 2000 programme in addition to the 113 already nominated by the authorities. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Austria says that it would be a "clear violation" of EU directives on protection of wild birds and of habitats if the areas are not nominated. The group claims that two-thirds of Austrian biodiversity can be found in the sites. WWF is promoting its campaign by seeking public support. Last week it began a poster publicity campaign in all larger Austrian towns aimed at bolstering its message. Along with environmental groups in other EU countries, WWF is simultaneously pushing for new approaches to agricultural funding that would help preserve environmental quality. It estimates that euros 72.7m will be necessary to protect all the 176 sites it thinks should be included in the Natura 2000 network. It also wants more money to be channelled towards organic and other environment ally-friendly farming methods.

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