Public awareness

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-164-en
Also known as: SEBI 026
Created 12 Aug 2014 Published 19 Feb 2015 Last modified 14 Jun 2016, 01:26 PM
Note: new version is available!
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Understanding and awareness of biodiversity have increased slightly since 2007. Citizens are also more aware of the threats and challenges facing biodiversity, but change in levels of awareness is slow. In 2013, more than two-thirds of EU citizens had heard of biodiversity, but only 44% know the meaning of the word. This is, however, 10% more than in 2007. 62% of EU citizens (against 58% in 2010) very much agree that it is important to halt biodiversity loss because our well-being and quality of life is based upon nature and biodiversity (TNS, 2013).

Key messages

Understanding and awareness of biodiversity have increased slightly since 2007. Citizens are also more aware of the threats and challenges facing biodiversity, but change in levels of awareness is slow. In 2013, more than two-thirds of EU citizens had heard of biodiversity, but only 44% know the meaning of the word. This is, however, 10% more than in 2007.

62% of EU citizens (against 58% in 2010) very much agree that it is important to halt biodiversity loss because our well-being and quality of life is based upon nature and biodiversity (TNS, 2013).

What is the level of public awareness about biodiversity in Europe? Are people willing to take action?

Familiarity with the term biodiversity

Note: In 2013, 30% of EU citizens have heard of biodiversity but didn’t know what it is.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Awareness of the Natura 2000 Network

Note: In 2007, 80% of EU citizens have never heard of the Natura 2000 network.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

The latest Eurobarometer survey, published in 2013, showed that EU citizens are more aware of the term biodiversity and have better knowledge about biodiversity-related issues. 44% report having heard of the term biodiversity and know what it means, instead of 37% in 2010 and 35% in 2007. In 2013, only 26% had never heard of the term as opposed to 35% in 2007 (figure 1). This familiarity with the term “biodiversity” has increased in 18 Member States compared with the previous survey in 2010 (TNS, 2013).

Nine in ten Europeans believe that the decline of forests, climate change, the endangering and disappearance of animals, the decline of natural habitats and the endangering of some plants are all serious problems (TNS, 2013).

In 2013, 62% of EU citizens very much agreed that it is important to halt biodiversity loss because our well-being and quality of life is based upon nature and biodiversity. This proportion has increased slightly from 55% in 2007 to 58% in 2010 (TNS, 2013). 38% of people surveyed say they take personal action to try and combat biodiversity loss (TNS, 2013).

The survey also reveals that most Europeans are unaware of what the EU is doing to save biodiversity: roughly three quarters of Europeans have not heard of the Natura 2000 network (73%). Only one in ten respondents (11%) have heard of the Natura 2000 network and know what it is, although this represents a slight increase over previous surveys (figure 2).

 

NOTES

Flash Eurobarometer survey is part of a trend survey. Previous survey waves were published in 2010 and 2007 (Flash Eurobarometers No 290 and 219), and the current report presents comparative data between the three waves. In 2013, some 25 537 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed, via telephone, in their mother tongue on behalf of the European Commission's DG Environment. Interviewees covered the population of the respective nationalities of the European Union Member States, resident in each of the 27 Member States and Croatia and aged 15 years and over. The basic sample design applied in all states is multi-stage random (probability). TNS* has developed its own random digit dialing sample generation capabilities based on using contact telephone numbers from responders to random probability or random location face to face surveys. This approach is consistent across all countries.

REFERENCES

*TNS, 2013, Flash Eurobarometer Series N° 379: Attitudes towards biodiversity. Survey conducted by TNS Political & Social at the request of the Directorate-General for Environment and co-ordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_379_en.pdf  [Accessed 27 March 2014].

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

This indicator is based on a quantitative questionnaire-based survey (Eurobarometer survey on biodiversity) to provide results that can be presented as, for instance (fictional example): '35 % of the European voting population visit a nature reserve at least once a year'. It can include qualitative information, often involving focus groups, for instance (fictional example): 'Discussion in the United Kingdom focus groups has shown that people are highly concerned about the impact of climate change on wildlife'.

Units

% of survey respondents


Policy context and targets

Context description

Public opinion is a vital factor in influencing politicians and decision makers. It provides a barometer for public support and interest and is a motivation for individuals at all levels to lead and to take more action. The purpose of this indicator for public opinion is therefore to gauge attitudes of the general public in relation to issues such as: value for money and effectiveness in delivering biodiversity gains through public funding; knowledge of and value (financial and otherwise) assigned to wildlife; awareness of and opportunities to see wildlife and visit wildlife sites; etc.

Relation of the indicator to the focal area

Public opinion is an indication of: 1) attitude towards biodiversity per se; and 2) the attitude of the action taken by politicians and public bodies toward the protection and management (financial and fiscal, public statements, etc.) for biodiversity.

Targets

No targets have been specified

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

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The standard Eurobarometer was established in 1973. Each survey consists of approximately 1 000 face-to-face interviews per member state (with variations in a small number of countries). They are conducted between two and five times a year, with reports published twice yearly. Against this background 'Special Eurobarometer' reports (of which biodiversity is one) are based on in-depth thematic studies carried out for various services of the European Commission and other EU institutions and integrated in Standard Eurobarometer's polling waves.

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR

  • It is entirely dependant on the questions asked in the survey. Additionally, the answers are directly linked to factors that will vary between countries, for instance:

Economic prosperity (the ability of travel, etc.);

Cultural and socio economic factors (e.g. nature reserve is a playground to visit for some, and some countries, and a place to live and work for others).

  • Differing levels of interpretation/response by the public based on socio-economic/cultural factors.
  • Only one data point is certain before 2010.

ANALYSIS OF OPTIONS

Several indicators have been considered. The analysis was built on existing initiatives in European countries and the input of various experts.

Some examples can be found of social indicators for public awareness and participation that are being used at a national level in order to evaluate national or local regional biodiversity policy and strategies:

1. Number of Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) that exist in different habitats as well as the number of local BAPs (LBAPs).

2. Assessment of public enjoyment of woodland.

3. Assessment of ease of access to local green space and countryside.

4. Proportion of households undertaking wildlife gardening.

5. Numbers of visits to nature reserves.

6. The number of adequately trained staff in local environmental administrations.

7. Number of campaigns and rate of citizen participation in national environmental education and awareness raising programmes e.g. garden bird monitoring programmes.

8. The number of national biodiversity projects implemented with stakeholder participation.

9. Level of personal involvement in community groups.

10. Informal or formal volunteering in conservation groups.

11. Awareness of sustainability and Local Agenda 21.

There are other initiatives developed by Defra, United Kingdom (2006) such as measuring volunteer time spent in conservation and number of people volunteering for conservation activity.

Two headline indicators used in Belgium (2006) are:

1. Frequency of visits to nature and forest areas (annual).
2. Membership of non-governmental organizations for nature conservation (1997-2003).

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Biodiversity Biodiversity (Primary topic)

Tags:
biodiversity | natura 2000
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 026
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2007, 2010, 2013
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala

EEA Management Plan

2014 1.7.4 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 3 years
Filed under: ,
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100