Nature protection and biodiversity - Outlook 2020 (Portugal)
- Nature and biodiversity
The use of biodiversity indicators in Portugal is quite recent and there is a great deal of development work still to be done. However, the first global evaluation of the conservation status of species and habitats (under the aegis of Article 17 of the Habitats Directive) is now available, enabling more targeted measures to be implemented in order to reverse decline in biodiversity.
Although no real projections exist, the loss of biodiversity is an unquestionable fact that is identified as a threat in all the programmes, plans and strategies that have been developed over the last few years.
The impacts of climate change on biodiversity are one of the strategic sectors identified in the recent proposal for a National Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change. Studies indicate that throughout the 20th century the Portuguese climate has undergone an evolution characterised by three periods of change in mean temperature, with the most recent period (1976-2000) characterised by an accelerated increase in temperature. All the climatic scenarios created predict a significant increase in mean temperature and a reduction of precipitation which will have a further impact on biological diversity.
The governments of Portugal and Spain are currently undertaking a collaborative study with the objective of fighting the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. The project Iberia-change is a unique initiative since climate change knows no political or administrative borders. As these two countries are part of the same bio-geographical region, the Iberian Peninsula is the ideal territorial area in which to study biodiversity. Even though it represents less than 6 % of the total area of Western Europe, it houses more than 50 % of all European flora and fauna. Endemism is extraordinarily high: 31 % of around 900 terrestrial plant and vertebrate species are found on the Iberian Peninsula.