SPAIN is the European country with the most plants and animals at risk of extinction, according to a new analysis.

Data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species show a staggering one in seven species (14.51%) in Spain are categorised as being under ‘threat’ of disappearing completing.

Spain was trailed by Greece with 14.24% of species under threat of extinction, followed by Portugal with 11.64% and Italy with 11.35%.

Four of the six European regions at the top of the study are countries around the Mediterranean basin.

Though the report suggests half of Spain’s threatened species are suffering from agriculture – and over a third from residential and commercial construction – Spain’s top spot is not totally down to man-made factors.

Spain was also the country with the most total number of species registered for the study (7,549) and with the most endemic species of any European nation (1,297 or 19.77%)

According to Jose Luis Postigo, a researcher from the University of Malaga, the number of threatened species is ‘directly related to the total number of species in a country’.

He said that as the Spanish mainland is on a peninsula, it’s more likely that species are specialised and hence under higher threat of extinction as they aren’t found elsewhere.

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The Iberian lynx is one of the most iconic endangered species in Spain – despite numbers rocketing from just 94 in 2002 to over 1,000 individuals today. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

According to the European Commission, the Mediterranean basin is also ‘one of the regions with the highest biodiversity in the world’.

“There are more plant species here than in the all the other biogeographic regions in Europe put together.”

Furthermore, the IUCN Red List classifies certain species as under threat of extinct simply because they are only found in one area – and not necessarily because their numbers are falling.

The Iberian lynx for example in 2002 was one of the world’s most endangered cats with just 94 left in the world – as of 2021, continued conservation efforts have seen that number rocket up to 1,111 in Spain’s southern Andalucia region.

According to the IUCN, eight animal species have gone extinct in Spain, including:

  • Mediterranean monk seal
  • Eurasian lynx
  • European river lamprey
  • Black grouse
  • Lanner falcon
  • Common crane

According to a publication on Spain’s official state bulletin (BOE) 32 species are known to have disappeared from Spain, but remain in other parts of the world and are priorities for conversation efforts.

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