Habitats of European interest

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: SEBI 005
Created 13 Sep 2016 Published 28 Nov 2016 Last modified 28 Nov 2016, 10:46 AM
This indicator shows changes and trends in the conservation status of habitats of European interest listed in the Habitats Directive. It is based on data collected under the reporting obligations of Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). This reporting obligation contributes to the further development of EU and international biodiversity policy by providing a reliable measure of the status and trends in nature at both species and habitat levels.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)


Justification for indicator selection


  • Policy relevance: the indicator directly indicates the implementation and success of the Habitats Directive.
  • The indicator is very relevant for measuring progress across several targets of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. It is crucial for measuring the progress towards Target 1 and contributes significantly to measuring the progress towards Targets 2 and 3.
  • Results are representative for the EU Member States and can be aggregated to the EU level. The indicator is directly comparable at national and regional (EU) scale.
  • The data will be regularly collected by Member States (Article 17 Reporting Obligation) and the methodology for data collection and processing is constantly being improved (under Article 17 Reporting Obligation of the Habitats Directive).
  • The formats for reporting to both directives are discussed by the Member States and NGOs.
  • Hardly any extra costs will be involved. The resources necessary for data collection are significant but have to be spent under the obligations of Article 11 Habitats Directive.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator shows changes and trends in the conservation status of habitats of European interest listed in the Habitats Directive.
It is based on data collected under the reporting obligations of Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). This reporting obligation contributes to the further development of EU and international biodiversity policy by providing a reliable measure of the status and trends in nature at both species and habitat levels.


The unit used in this indicator is percent (%).

Policy context and targets

Context description

This indicator covers habitats that are considered to be of European interest (listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive). This set comprises 'habitats which are in danger of disappearance in their natural range or have a small natural range following their regression or by reason of their intrinsically restricted area or present outstanding examples of typical characteristics of one or more of the biogeographical regions' (Article 1 of the Habitats Directive).

Trends in this indicator should primarily be influenced by the implementation of measures under the Habitats Directive, such as the establishment of the Natura 2000 Network, and habitat and species protection measures. Therefore the indicator reflects progress achieved by the Habitats Directive, one of the main legislative pillars of EU nature conservation policy.


Target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 states that:
‘To halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation and achieve a significant and measurable improvement in their status so that, by 2020, compared to current assessments: (i) 100 % more habitat assessments and 50 % more species assessments under the Habitats Directive show an improved conservation status; and (ii) 50 % more species assessments under the Birds Directive show a secure or improved status.’

The indicator is also relevant for measuring progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, especially the Strategic Goals B and C, to reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use, and to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity respectively.

Related policy documents

  • EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy
    in the Communication: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244) the European Commission has adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. The six targets cover: - Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity - Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure - More sustainable agriculture and forestry - Better management of fish stocks - Tighter controls on invasive alien species - A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss

Key policy question

What is the progress towards Target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020?

Specific policy question

What is the conservation status of habitats under the Habitats Directive?


Methodology for indicator calculation

Under Article 17 reporting, each Member State provides an assessment of all habitats of European interest (habitats listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive) at national biogeographic level, and supporting data, such as those on habitat surface area. Monitoring of conservation status is an obligation arising from Article 11 of the Habitats Directive, and is not limited to Natura 2000 sites. EU regional assessments of conservation status are made by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC/BD), based on data and assessments reported by Member States.

The conservation status is illustrated in three 'traffic light' categories ('favourable' - green, 'unfavourable inadequate' - amber, 'unfavourable bad' - red, plus 'unknown') characterised by four parameters:

  • status of range and trend,
  • status of area and trend,
  • structure and function including typical species,
  • future prospects.


The indicator is based on the number of habitat assessments in the three conservation status categories and on changes between categories over time. In addition, the indicator also looks at current trends in habitat conservation status, as well as showing progress in meeting the Target 1 of the EU biodiversity to 2020. 

The baseline for measuring progress to Target 1 for habitats under the Habitats Directive is based on the proportion of assessments which were 'favourable' from 2001 to 2006, i.e. 17 %.

The majority of changes in conservation status in the 2007-2012 assessments reported by the Member States were due to better data or changes in the methodology used, with many species previously reported as unknown now being reported under one of the theree conservation status classes. This in turn means that many of the EU assesments for biogeographical and marine regions also changed. As the nature of change was noted by the assessor for each EU regional assessment, it is possible to identify which assessments have changed due to different methods and improved data, and to 'backcast' the previous conservation status using the new data.

A comparison of the 2007-2012 assessments with the 'backcast' 2001-2006 assessmets indicates that little has changed in terms of conservation classes, as only some 3 % of changes were reported as genuine (i.e. not due to change in methods, better data etc.).


Further about conservation status assessment:




Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified.

Methodology references

  • State of nature in the EU EEA, 2015, State of nature in the EU Results from reporting under the nature directives 2007–2012, EEA Report No 12/2012, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Further streamlining and harmonisation in methodologies used by Member States are needed at EU level to reduce the differences that that make aggregation and interpretation of data at the EU level difficult. The quality of the data reported (often based on simple expert judgement) also indicates that Member States need to further develop or complement their inventories and monitoring schemes.

Data sets uncertainty

Due to improved data and changes in methodology in the 2013 round of Article 17 reporting, it is difficult to make direct comparisons and measure progress since the first reporting round (2007).

Rationale uncertainty


  • Limited trend information: only two data sets are currently available (one covering the EU 25 territory and one covering the EU 27 territory including Bulgaria and Romania). The data is currently reported in a six-year cycle – following data sets will be available after 2019.
  • The indicator is based on the Habitats Directive; application at the global/ pan-European level is not possible.

Further work

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.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
SEBI 005
Version id: 2

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 6 years


DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Log in

Forgot your password?
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100