Biodiversity — Ecosystems
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Biodiversity is the name given to the variety of ecosystems (natural capital), species and genes in the world or in a particular habitat. It is essential to human wellbeing, as it delivers services that sustain our economies and societies. Biodiversity is also crucial to ecosystem services — the services that nature supplies — such as pollination, climate regulation, flood protection, soil fertility and the production of food, fuel, fibre and medicines. More
- Key facts and messages
- The main EU target of 'halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services' by 2020 remains a serious challenge. more
- Europe's natural capital is under growing cumulative pressure from intensive agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and urban sprawl. A substantial volume of relevant EU legislation already exists but lacks adequate integration in sectoral policies.... more
- The demands of a growing global population with rapidly changing consumption patterns for food, mobility and energy are exerting ever-increasing pressure on the Earth's ecosystems and their life-supporting services. In combination with climate... more
- The total area of nationally designated protected areas currently covers about 21% of terrestrial territory and inland waters, although further expansion of the marine network is required to meet targets. more
- Designation of protected areas is not a guarantee of biodiversity protection. Effective biodiversity conservation within protected areas also requires management with a focus on species, habitats and ecosystems; measures to tackle the causes... more
- Exacerbated by climate change and continued pollution, rates of global habitat destruction and biodiversity loss are predicted to increase, including in Europe. Continued degradation of global ecosystems and their services will influence poverty... more
- Europe's biodiversity continues to be eroded resulting in ecosystem degradation. Recent data show that 60% of species and 77% of habitats continue to be in unfavourable conservation status. Constant habitat loss, diffuse pollution, over-exploitation... more
- Forests provide a range of ecosystem services from capturing and storing carbon to providing bio-fuel, timber as well as social benefits. However, our forests, which have increased in area by 17 million hectares since 1990, face growing pressure... more
- The claims on forests services are increasing. Understanding the role of more than 14 million forest owners/managers is imperative to developing balanced, sustainable policy on forest resources. more
Nature works hard to protect us and to sustain our everyday lives — a fact that is often under-appreciated. But it plays a vital role, providing clean air, clean drinking water, clothing, food and raw materials we use to build shelter. Other benefits are not so well known, such as the role nature plays in alleviating the effects of climate change. To highlight the important role nature plays in our lives, the European Environment Agency (EEA) invites you to participate in capturing how nature benefits you through the ‘NATURE@work’ photography competition.
Substantial progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, air and other pollutants, and improving energy and material efficiency, needs to be complemented by more actions by EU Member States to fully apply agreed-to policies to better protect biodiversity, natural resources, and people’s health. These are the key findings of a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report which reviews key trends and outlook towards achieving EU 2020 environmental objectives.
Securing our need for food has become a major threat to the environment, driving increased emissions and over-exploitation of natural resources such as water, soil and fish. Our health and well-being have also been affected. Ensuring nutritious food for all in a fair and environmentally sound way has become a societal, economic and policy challenge across the world. A shared understanding of the food system and the roles different actors — policy makers, producers and other stakeholders in the food supply-chain — play will be crucial to a sustainable future, according to a new European Environment Agency report published today.
Transport networks have become a commonplace feature of the European landscape. They connect people, boost economic activity and provide access to key services, but they also introduce barriers between natural areas, while their use emits pollutants and introduces non-local species to ecosystems. Strong policy measures and a network of green spaces can help preserve and protect Europe’s natural wealth.
Forests in Europe provide us essential services: clean air, clean water, natural carbon storage, timber, food and other products. They are home to many species and habitats. We talked about the challenges Europe’s forests face with Annemarie Bastrup-Birk, forest and environment expert at the European Environment Agency.
Green infrastructure offers attractive solutions to environmental, social and economic issues, and as such needs to be fully integrated across different policy domains. As the EEA prepares to publish a report on the role of green infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of weather and climate change related natural hazards, we spoke to its lead author, Gorm Dige, project manager for territorial environment, policy and economic analysis.
Our natural environment is a key component of our health and wealth. However, our recent assessments show that the majority of habitats and species in Europe have an unfavourable conservation status despite significant improvements for many species in recent years.
Forests are rich in biodiversity and valuable for recreation, water regulation and soil protection. As well as for providing timber and other non-wood forest products, forests are important for mitigating climate change and for the renewable energy sector. Forest ecosystems are exposed to a range of environmental, economic and social pressures that challenge their sustainability. The forest sector is influenced by the unprecedented pressures arising from climate change and the growing demands of society on natural resources. The aim of this report is to assess the current state of forest ecosystems in Europe on the pathway to healthy, diverse, resilient and productive forests for the benefit of present and future generations.
We depend on healthy and resilient ecosystems to continue to deliver services, such as food, water, clean air and stable climate, which are essential for our well-being. This report provides an overview about the current condition of ecosystems in Europe and the human pressures they are exposed to. A ecosystem map for Europe reveals that many ecosystems are highly concentrated in a small number of countries, which could increase their vulnerability to environmental change, and a substantial proportion of the most vulnerable ecosystems are not protected within Natura 2000 sites, Marine Protected Areas or equivalent zones.
This report descibes the EUNIS habitat classification review which provides the context for a number of policy-related ecosystem and habitat assessments. It is a European reference to which other national or regional classifications can be cross referenced. The review of terrestrial EUNIS habitat classification, on the basis of georeferenced vegetation samples, aims to enhance the technical capacity for documenting, monitoring and assessing the quality of habitats at the European level. This work strengthens the knowledge base that is used for assessing progress towards the European Union (EU) and global biodiversity targets for 2020.
This European Environment Agency (EEA) technical report presents an overview of the 2012 spatial distribution of the networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) established in the waters of EU), excluding overseas territories.