Biodiversity – 10 messages for 2010.
The variety of life underpins our social and economic wellbeing and will be increasingly an indispensible resource in the battle against climate change. However, our consumption and production patterns are depriving ecosystems of their capacity to withstand climate change and deliver the services we need from them. As we understand more about the ways that climate change is impacting biodiversity, it becomes clear that we cannot tackle the two crises separately. Their interdependence requires us to address them together.
Protected areas provide a wide range of services in a context of increasing pressures and a rapidly changing environment. Europe is the region with the greatest number of protected areas in the world but they are relatively small in size. Europe's Natura 2000, unique in the world and still young, and the Emerald network under development, are international European networks of protected areas that catalyse biodiversity conservation.
Freshwater ecosystems in Europe are rich in biodiversity but at risk. They provide essential ecosystem services to humans, such as cleaning water, preventing floods, producing food, providing energy and regulating freshwater resources...
Marine ecosystems provide key services both globally and locally, which are essential for maintaining life on our planet. However, marine biodiversity faces an unprecedented range of pressures. In recent years climate change has caused changes in species distribution and presents new challenges for marine biodiversity as oceans become more acidic.
Forests cover a large part of Europe but the distribution of such ecosystems varies significantly across the continent. They fulfill multiple functions for society, providing economic, social and environmental benefits, including serving as a key reservoir of biodiversity.
In Europe, where the overwhelming majority of people live in urban areas, tackling the interlinked challenges between biodiversity and its network of towns and cities is crucial to help halting biodiversity loss.
Within the framework of the CAP, the last 50 years have seen increasing attention to biodiversity, but without clear benefits so far. With agriculture covering about half of EU land area, Europe's biodiversity is linked inextricably to agricultural practices, creating valuable agro-ecosystems across the whole of Europe.
European mountain regions provide essential ecosystem services for lowlands and host a great diversity of habitats and species, many adapted to specific extreme climatic conditions. Mountain ecosystems are fragile and vulnerable, and face severe threats from land abandonment, intensifying agriculture, impacts of infrastructure development, unsustainable exploitation and climate change.
Key messages: 1) As an interface between land and sea, European coastlines provide vital resources for wildlife, but also for the economy and human health and well-being. 2) Multiple pressures, including habitat loss and degradation, pollution, climate change and overexploitation of fish stocks, affect coastal ecosystems. 3) Coastal habitat types and species of Community interest are at risk in Europe; two thirds of coastal habitat types and more than half of coastal species have an unfavourable conservation status. 4) Integrated and ecosystem-based approaches provide the foundation for sustainable coastal management and development, supporting socio-economic development, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Coordinated action at the global, regional and local levels will be key to sustainable management of coastal ecosystems.
Key messages: 1) Diverse climatic conditions, varied geology and morphology and centuries of pre- and post-industrial land use created Europe's diverse mosaic of cultural and natural landscapes, rich in biodiversity. 2) Europe's landscapes have become highly fragmented and homogenised, threatening their biodiversity and affecting their multifunctional role. 3) By managing its multifunctional culture-historical landscapes and related biodiversity sustainably, Europe can secure valuable ecosystems services while preserving its cultural and natural heritage. 4) Various legal instruments and initiatives address European biodiversity heritage at the landscape level. Incorporating these into regional and local planning and involving local communities is necessary to secure Europe's biodiversity heritage and maintain multifunctional landscapes.
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For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/10-messages-for-2010 or scan the QR code.
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