CORINE, the Coordination of Information on the Environment, which is the official classification system for natural habitats of the European Community (EC), is putting Europe's vulnerable wildlife sanctuaries under severe risk, alleges John Rodwell of Lancaster University. Rodwell, who is the coordinator of the British Natural Vegetation Classification, is extremely upset about the manner in which corine handles its business, which has resulted in the extinction of sea lochs, hay meadows and snowbeds containing precious plants from the draft list of sites that are to be protected by the ec's new Habitats Directive from June 1995.
The directive, which has been projected as the cornerstone of the continent's conservation policy, will fail to achieve its set target only because of corine's indulgence in "poor and hurried data gathering", complains Rodwell. In mid-March a report from the House of Lords European Communities Committee warned that the work of the EC Environment Agency could be seriously hindered by poor data and secrecy. Rodwell believes that the glaring gaps in corine have cropped up because the scientists were completely shut out during the data collecting process. According to him, government representatives "fixed things amongst themselves" and vied with each other to protect the interest of fishing fleets and commercial farmers.
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