The diagnosis, on the International Day of Biodiversity, which is celebrated on 22 May, is from activist Paulo Lucas, leader of the association Zero, who told Lusa news agency that the Portuguese flora is in a "very serious situation", with "dozens and dozens of species with protected status", but that are outside classified areas, such as protected areas and the Natura Network.

In fauna, he points to the problematic situation of freshwater fish, "strongly threatened" by the lack of water that advances the pace of climate change, "destruction of shores and introduction of exotic species, which proliferate much more and are usually large predators, such as largemouth bass and catfish.

Birds are also "in a very complicated situation, especially steppe birds, which depend on an "extensive cereal farming model, with fallow rotation and some grazing.

"In the last two years, the figures indicate that they are having very serious problems that the agricultural policy cannot resolve", Zero's leader said.

In the Living Planet Index published last year by environmental organisation World Wildlife Fund (WWF), it noted that between 1970 and 2016 there was a 68 percent decline in mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish populations, based on data on 20,811 populations of 4,392 species.

WWF also noted that biodiversity in freshwater environments is declining at a much faster rate than in oceans or forests. Since 1700, the planet will have lost almost 90 percent of its wetlands, by the way human action has altered the course of millions of kilometres of rivers and streams.

In 3,741 freshwater populations that have been monitored (which include 944 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish), there has been an 84 percent drop since 1970, especially in the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

As for plants, the WWF indicated last year that they are at a risk of expansion comparable to that of mammals and double that of birds. The organisation estimated that one in five species was threatened with extinction.

This year, the motto of the international day, promoted by the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity is "We are part of the solution".

Paulo Lucas points out that there is "insufficient knowledge about natural values" in Portugal and that the creation of protected areas and Natura 2000 zones was carried out without a reference register of species and their conservation status.

"If we don't know where things are and what's at risk, there's no point in having major conservation policies. We prefer to delimit Natura Network sites, for example, in a very comprehensive way, but many hectares, in the middle of these sites, have nothing", he said.

The environmentalist complains of the lack of attention paid by local authorities to the defence of biodiversity.

"What interests them are footbridges, festivals, pedestrian trails that 'value', in inverted commas, but these things are engines of destruction, taking people to places where they shouldn't be", he criticised, indicating that this type of initiative generates pressure on ecosystems.

Although in recent decades education has raised awareness of the threats to biodiversity, he considers that there is "a literacy problem".

"People don't know the flora and even less can they distinguish the animals. The series that are on television are about elephants and zebras, but there are no series about our fauna. It would be very interesting to have this information. It's not enough to tell people to go into nature if they don't know how to interpret what they see. It is not enough", he argues.

Paulo Lucas highlights as positive initiatives such as the reintroduction of the Iberian lynx and the efforts towards its conservation, but points out others that need more intervention, such as the Iberian wolf.

"The population has not grown for many years, it has remained at 300 individuals and an expansion policy is needed. We have abandoned the rural environment and we need to return it to nature, we are artificialising the landscape and we need compensation in other places, we need to expand the wolf south of the Douro, but as long as it has natural prey, such as deer and wild boar", he said.