Distribution of plant species
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
The rate of climate change is likely to exceed the adaptive capacity of some wild plant species (IPCC, 2007), whilst others are expected to benefit from changing environmental conditions (Sobrino Vesperinas et al., 2001). Consequently, the composition of many plant communities is changing to the extent that completely new assemblages are appearing. In addition, there is a parallel change in plant distribution and the increased threat of extinction of species at the edge of their geographical and altitudinal ranges -- particularly poorly-dispersing endemics. The ecological implications of these changes and the effects on the services that these ecosystems provide are not always clear. Together with the emergence of invasive non-native species, these factors will have challenging consequences for long-term biodiversity conservation (Gitay et al., 2002) and the ability of Europe to meet its target to halt biodiversity loss, not least in relation to the favourable status of Natura 2000 sites.
The adaptive capacity of species is linked to genetic diversity and this too might change under climate change; sensitive and valuable relic populations will be particularly affected.
- No rationale references available
- Increase in species richness on Swiss Alpine mountain summits in 20th century
- Projected changes in number of plant species in 2050
Policy context and targets
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 27 Feb 2015, 12:30 AM