The continents only come into existence as a temporary result of tectonic plates slowly shifting over the planet's surface. Europe is one of the pieces into which Gondwana was divided and rejoined with Asia. This colossal journey contributed also to its orography, as mountains and volcanoes resulted from such clashes.
The natural long-term cycle of ice ages and interglacial periods greatly contributes to geological and resulting changes, especially in the relatively rapid transition periods. Coasts are redrawn completely by sea water level changes, sometimes enough to turn the north Sea into a dry pasture. On land, glaciers cover vast surfaces while their retreat drastically reshapes them and moves vast quantities of soil and stone.
Early man had mainly adapted to his environment, but civilization meant technology and demography enabling him to reshape it, deliberately and accidentally. The Roman empire widely introduced roads, imported crops etcetera, but also depleted the wild predators populations for circus games in every garrison town. Land kept being claimed for agriculture during the Middle Ages, also by monasteries, until the Black Death more then halved the human population, allowing wildlife to recover for about 250 years. The building of wooden fleets resulted in unprecedented ...
Although the twentieth century transformed Europe faster then previous history, the new century is bound to be even more radical in the rapport between man and wildlife. Some species adapt remarkably, even thrive under urbanization, landscaping, waste dumps etcetera. Many European authorities are starting to see the light and reverse disastrous 'management'. The greatest challenge probably comes from climate change, a timeless phenomenon, but the greenhouse effect means an unprecedented, fast edition.