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You are here: Home / Publications / Europe's Environment - The Dobris Assessment / Appendix 2: Information Strenghts and Weaknesses

Appendix 2: Information Strenghts and Weaknesses


Information strengths Information weaknesses
Air Meteorological data Detailed monitoring of toxic substances (eg, VOCs)
Monitoring networks of common pollutants (SO2, NOx, CO, O3, lead) Detailed emissions inventories of substances throughout Europe
National emissions inventories 
European emissions inventories (eg, CORINAIR90)
European contribution to global emissions
Inland waters National totals for water availability and abstraction available for most countries Regional water resources statistics missing
River runoff in large rivers well known Present rates and trends of water abstraction by source and economic sectors poorly known
River water quality in large EU rivers fairly well known (database exists covering the period since 1976) Comparable and reliable data on groundwater quantity and quality almost completely lacking
Efficient surface water monitoring networks in place in some countries In general, comparison of surface water quality across Europe is very difficult due to lack of comparable and reliable data. In particular, there is a lack of data on small rivers and lakes
Comparatively good data on basic water chemistry, eutrophication and acidification Data on organic micropollutants, metals and radioactivity are patchy and incomplete
  Biological assessments of river quality carried out using a variety of methods, hence not comparable
No pan-European water quality database exists
Reporting schemes differ markedly between countries
The seas Comprehensive surveillance of microbiological bathing water quality in EU waters Very little comparable data on water quality and biology available for the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the White Sea and the Barents Sea
Harmonised and efficient monitoring programmes for water quality, land-based emissions, and sea food contamination exist for a few seas, including the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, as a result of implementation of international conventions. Estimates of pollutant loads from different human activities and natural sources in general not available
  Unified procedures for estimating land-based emissions to seas missing
Comparison of contaminant load estimates between different seas
No pan-European marine water quality database exists
Reporting schemes differ markedly between seas
Soil Harmonised soil map of the EU at scale 1:1 million Updated soil map of Europe (1:1 million) harmonised with Eastern Europe. No European soil map at a scale of 1:250 000 is available for environmental assessment
Global assessment of soil degradation map (1:10 million) for water and wind erosion and physical degradation In general, lack of quantitative data on soil properties
Models for quantification of soil pollution Soil survey, sampling, analytical methods and nomenclature vary between countries
Models for calculating critical loads and their exceedance for acidification of European forest soils Soil and terrain attributes that influence environmental processes are often missing in soil surveys
Case studies for estimation of soil compaction effects Data on soil fauna and flora, organic matter and pollutants are poor and inadequate
  Contaminated sites inventory lacking
Landscapes Ground-based and remote sensed land use data No international harmonisation of existing data
National and regional reports about landscape types Existing classification schemes are rudimentary and lack detail
Database with protected landscapes
(> 1000 hectares)
No information on distribution and quality of landscape types
Nature and wildlife ­ ecosystems Internationally harmonised classification systems and international inventories (of sites) exist for large parts of Europe (EU) No incorporation of data from Scandinavia and Central Europe into international systems (but in progress)
Many countries and NGOs hold detailed information on habitats Limited accessibility to East European data
Existing data (eg, on natural potential vegetation, soil and land cover) are generally available for ecosystem assessments No data on ecosystem distribution for the whole of Europe
 Information on distribution and ecological quality of ecosystems groups is partly out of date, patchy and often incomplete
Nature and wildlife ­ species International data on birds and mammals have relatively good coverage and are being regularly updated Internationally harmonised data on reptiles, amphibians and fish are incomplete, and lacking on invertebrates
Red species lists on endangered species follow international standards Insufficient large-scale monitoring schemes for internationally endangered, migratory and indicator species
Large amount of scientific work, literature, museum materials exist for many species and their populations Insufficient data coverage for the supra-regional decline of unendangered species (eg, plants)
Urban environment Census data (population, land area, housing, households, etc) City boundaries definition is a major difficulty which undermines the meaning and comparability of data such as population, land use and infrastructure density
Data on urban landuse, infrastructures, and public transport are available at the municipal level Availability and comparability of environmental quality data (eg, noise) is very limited due to different methods of collection and classification
Data on services supplied at the municipal level (eg, drinking water, sewage, municipal waste, etc) Data on the use of resources (eg, energy and materials) are not available at the municipal level
Monitoring of concentrations of common air pollutants (SO2, NOx, CO, O3, lead) Information on environmental performance of urban planning and management are scarce
Energy flows by sources and end-uses in a few cities 
Initiatives to create a common framework for developing urban environmental indicators
Emissions National emission inventories of pollutants into the air containing detailed spatial information on human activities and their resulting (estimated) emissions of a wide range of pollutants Direct emission measurements infrequent
Internationally coordinated inventories for emisions to the atmosphere Emissions into water bodies not quantified in detail; almost complete lack of data on catchment scale
 Releases into or onto land incomplete and fragmentary (see Waste)
Limited comparability of national emissions inventories
Limited integration of inventories between emission to air, water, land, human activities and major environmental problems
Timely emission statistics
Waste National inventories of waste generation and management in several European countries Harmonised waste classification systems and harmonised inventories of waste generation and management are lacking
International initiatives for the harmonisation of waste statistics (eg, European Waste Catalogue) Monitoring of landfills and emissions from waste treatment facilities and compliance with standards are insufficient
Transfrontier movements of waste are being recorded by UNEP under the Basel Convention Reliable data on transfrontier movement of hazardous waste (origin/destination) not available
Data on most types of radioactive waste produced by civil activities available in most Western European countries Data on radioactive waste handled at military sites are usually not available
National registers for contaminated sites in a few countries European and national inventories of contaminated sites still lacking
Noise and radiation Some noise data available for transport (road, rail and air) Availability and comparability of noise exposure is poor due to different limit values, measurement techniques and diversity of descriptors used. Poor time series does not allow analysis
Sources and effects of natural and artificial ionising radiation generally well known Lack of data on non-transport noise (eg, recreational noise)
  Poor noise data in Central and Eastern Europe in general
Lack of data on annoyance from noise
Lack of data for Europe on UV-B reaching the Earth's surface
Lack of data on artificial sources of UV-B
Exposure data for electromagnetic fields lacking
Contamination and effects from radiation 'hotspots' from spills, accidents and waste disposal by the former USSR lacking
Chemicals and genetically modified organisms Toxicity and ecotoxicity data for the small fraction of chemicals profiled and catalogued in international registers and newly coming on to the market Toxicity and ecotoxicity data not satisfactory for most of the more than 100 000 chemicals in use and circulation, especially concerning potential impacts on human health and the environment
  Environmental pathways of chemicals
Natural and technological hazards Impacts of individual accidents on human health usually well reported Data on environmental damage, eological effects, long-term recovery and clean-up actions not available
Location, nature and causes of major accidents reported on national basis and by a few international registers (eg, MARS) Information on type and site of releases often very approximate; in general, accidents reported incompletely
Industrial accidents in Northern Europe well coveredPaucity of data on industrial accidents in Eastern Europe; acute problem of hazard and risk quantification for older plants in Central and Eastern Europe
Natural hazards widely reported on regional, national and international levelsEnvironmental impacts of natural hazards not routinely reported. Particular lack of information on potential interaction between natural hazards and human activities
Energy Primary energy production Data on available resources of non-renewable energy sources (eg, coal and oil reserves)
Total energy consumption Sectoral fuel consumption by end-use
Forecasts of future energy consumption Emissions to air originating from energy sources for the whole of Europe
Spills from pipelines in Western Europe Detailed inventories of major energy using plant (their age, size, technology, etc)
  Data on renewable energy production and consumption
Land area used by energy and electricity generation plants
Energy conservation and efficiency measures
Spills from pipelines in Central and Eastern Europe
Industry Industrial production, employment and trade flows Limited data on emissions to air from different industrial sectors for the whole of Europe
Energy use by industry as a whole In Central and Eastern Europe, industrial contribution to emissions not separated out from total figures
Voluntary reporting by companies Limited data on emissions to water
  Poor data on soil contamination from industrial activities
Industrial waste data is very poor, especially in Central and Eastern Europe (volumes, composition, fate of various wastes)
Poor industrial waste classification systems
Limited data on resource use by industry (raw materials, energy, water)
Transport Vehicle stocks and transport volumes in Western Europe Contribution of transport to GNP
Length of infrastructure network Vehicle stocks and transport volumes in Central and Eastern Europe
Energy use by transport Average distances travelled by different transport modes and data on 'alternative' modes of transport, such as walking and bicycling
Traffic accidents Emissions to air from road transport are difficult to estimate (CO2, NOX, VOCs etc) and off-road emissions lacking
  Emissions from aircraft, railway and water transport
Transport waste (eg, old cars and tyres)
Travel speeds, fleet composition, occupancy rates, load factors
Noise from transport sources not collected on a systematic regular basis, using same methodology
Routine and accidental releases from transport
Land area used by different transport modes
Agriculture In general, adequate information on the structure of production, inputs to the land to maximise production, and production itself Data missing on the relative contribution to impacts on the environment of agriculture production and change in agriculture systems
For EU and EFTA countries, comprehensive information on production, farm size, employment structure, fertiliser and pesticide use, and livestock 
Forestry For Western Europe, a reasonable amount of data are available on area by broad forest type, rates of reforestation and afforestation, volumes of the standing stock of wood and annual growth, annual fellings and removals, production of roundwood, pulp and charcoal Economic data on forest production, trade, and other factors, such as contribution to GDP/GNP, are either lacking or obsolete in Eastern Europe
Surveys also exist on forest condition in a large part of Europe Few available inventory data for the Baltic states, Moldova and the European part of the Russian Federation
  Few data are available in general on specific environmental effects associated with forestry
In general, accurate data are lacking on the location, extent and composition of afforestation and reforestation, planting with introduced tree species, ancient/natural forests
Fishing and aquaculture Trend data on catches, fishing effort and fleet capacity (especially for the Northeast Atlantic) Contribution of fishing to GNP
Stock data for the Northeast Atlantic Catch data is not always reliable due to unreported catches or misreporting
  Estimates of maximum sustainable yields
Data on fishing techniques, employment levels and productivity
Catch and stock data for the Mediterranean and Black seas
Catch and stock data for inland fisheries
Data on aquaculture production
Effluents arising from aquaculture
Tourism and recreation Trend data on arrivals at frontiers, and tourism arrivals and nights stayed in accommodation establishments Contribution of tourism to GNP
Arrivals at frontiers available by transport mode Visitor numbers for specific destinations or different tourism settings
  Relevant data on environmental impacts
Emissions to air and water and waste production from tourist activities
Use of different modes of transport used for tourism and recreation
Pan-European attitude surveys on preferred tourism destinations
Measures of the impact of tourism on the environment (indicators of carrying capacity), such as:
  1. composite indices of site attractivity and site stress index
  2. national level (eg, endangered species)
  3. site specific indicators (development density, area per tourist)
Households Trend data on number of households and number of people per household (not good for former USSR) Energy data is not separated from the commercial and service sector
Trends in car ownership End-use of energy by appliances
Trends in consumer spending Land area occupied by households
Public attitudes Water supply to households, especially in Central and Eastern Europe
 Details on end-use of water by households
Emissions to air and water (sewage production) and waste production (the volumes, recycling rates, amounts of hazardous pollutants)
Resource use by households (eg, energy and water use, waste recycling rates)

Geographic coverage

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