The total area of nationally-designated protected areas in Europe (1) has increased over time. The total area of nationally designated sites in 39 European countries was more than 1 million square kilometres in 2009. In Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA countries), the area of nationally designated sites is at least 1.5 million square kilometres. 1.2 million square kilometres can be added to the area in the EECCA countries, the information about the year of the designation is missing, however (2).
This quantitative information needs to be complemented by a qualitative assessment of the efficiency and the representativeness of the network of designated areas including good management practices.
A "Nationally designated area" is an area designated by a national designation instrument based on national legislation. If a country has included in its legislation the sites designated under the EU Birds and Habitats directive, the Natura 2000 sites of this country are included in the figure.
For 39 European countries, there is 0,037 km2 of additional designated areas but without any information of designation year. For the EECCA countries, for 25 % of sites included in the database, no size information is available.
Land take by the expansion of residential areas and construction sites is the main cause of the increase in the coverage of urban land at the European level. Agricultural zones and, to a lesser extent, forests and semi-natural and natural areas, are disappearing in favour of the development of artificial surfaces. This affects biodiversity since it decreases habitats, the living space of a number of species, and fragments the landscapes that support and connect them. The annual land take in 36 European countries was 111 788 ha/year in 2000-2006. In 21 countries covered by both periods (1990-2000 and 2000-2006) the annual land take increased by 9 % in the later period. The composition of land taken areas changed, too. More arable land and permanent crops, forests, grasslands and open spaces and less pastures and mosaic farmland were taken by artificial development then in 1990-2000.
Around half of the species of Community interest (those species which, within the territory of the European Union are listed in Annexes II, IV and V of the Habitats Directive) have an unfavourable conservation status, with variation across biogeographic regions (1) . There are still significant gaps in knowledge, especially for marine species. (1) The reporting format uses three classes of Conservation Status. 'Good' (green) signifies that the species or habitat is at Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) as defined in the Directive and the habitat or species can be expected to prosper without any change to existing management or policies. In addition, two classes of 'Unfavourable' are recognised: 'Unfavourable-Bad' (red) signifies that the habitat or species is in serious danger of becoming extinct (at least locally) and 'Unfavourable-Inadequate' (amber) is used for situations where a change in management or policy is required but the danger of extinction is not so high. The unfavourable category has been split into two classes to allow improvements or deterioration to be reported. (Assessment, monitoring and reporting under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive: Explanatory Notes & Guidelines DRAFT 2 January 2006).
By mid-2008, most EU Member States were close to reaching the target levels for designation of Natura 2000 sites thought necessary to protect habitats and species targeted by the Habitats Directive. Twentyone countries had a sufficiency of above 80 % and the new Member States (EU-10+2) were doing well given their recent accession. This is measured against a threshold that is considered adequate to achieve a favourable conservation status for the species and habitats of concern.
To date, the Red List Index has been calculated only for bird species at a European level, so the information in the current indicator is limited to European birds. The overall risk of extinction among Europe's birds has generally been on the rise over the last decade. While the status of some species has due to conservation action, many more have deteriorated because of worsening threats and/or declining populations.
Two-thirds of EU citizens do not know the meaning of the word 'biodiversity', let alone understand what the threats and challenges to its conservation are. Most EU citizens have never heard of the Natura 2000 network (80 %). However, over two-thirds of EU citizens report personally making efforts to help preserve nature.
Biodiversity has served as a major resource for patent activity across a wide swathe of science and technology sectors ranging from agriculture to cosmetics, functional foods, traditional medicines, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and emerging developments such as synthetic biology. About 9 % of European patent activity relates to biodiversity, rising to 16 % if the full spectrum of pharmaceutical activity is included. After rapid growth, patent activity for biodiversity now shows a declining trend. The decrease from 2005 seen in Figure 1 is due to the time lag between the filing of a patent and its publication (2 years and more). This means that for recent years, the data may not yet be in the database (see Oldham and Hall, 2009). Additional work is required to link the data with wider economic and geographical information.
In countries that reported data, 85 % of stations reported no changes in oxidised nitrogen levels in transitional, coastal and marine waters in the period 1985 - 2005 and 82 % reported no change for orthophosphate. At stations that identified changes, decreases were more common than increases.
In the majority of European seas, the Marine Trophic Index (MTI) has been declining since the mid - 1950s, which means that populations of predatory fishes decline to the benefit of smaller fish and invertebrates.
In several countries, populations of native breeds, although generally well adapted to local circumstances and resources, remain in critically low numbers, being replaced by a few and widespread highly productive breeds, introduced for this purpose. The fact that native breeds make up only a small part of the total population, and that a high percentage of native breeds are endangered (1) indicates a risk of loss of biodiversity. Although data are available for only a few countries, these indicate that many native cattle breeds are endangered. The situation for sheep is also problematic. Overall, the situation is stable but negative. (1) According to FAO, an endangered breed is assessed on quantitative criteria as the total number of breeding females or the overall population size and the percentage of purebred females. Here, however, each country has its own interpretation.
The cumulative number of alien species introduced has been constantly increasing since the 1900s . While the increase may be slowing down or levelling off for terrestrial and freshwater species, this is certainly not the case for marine and estuarine species. A relatively constant proportion of the alien species establishedcause significant damage to native biodiversity, i.e. can be classified as invasive alien species according to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This increase in the number of alien species established thus implies a growing potential risk of damage to native biodiversity caused by invasive alien species. While the majority of the approximately 10 000 alien species recorded in Europe (DAISIE project) have not (yet) been found to have major impacts, some are highly invasive. To identify the most problematic species to help prioritise monitoring, research and management actions, a list of 'Worst invasive alien species threatening biodiversity in Europe' (15) , presently comprising 163 species/species groups, has been established. While invasive alien species are recognised as a major driver of biodiversity loss, the issue of 'alien species' may in the future need to be considered in the context of climate change and particularly adaptation. For example, as agricultural food production adapts to a changing climate, farmers may welcome the arrival of pollinator species that match the new plant varieties that are used. Indeed, the movement of plant and animal species together may be necessary to facilitate adaptation. (5) A species, subspecies or lower taxon, introduced outside its natural past or present distribution; includes any part, gametes, seeds, eggs or propagules of such species that might survive and subsequently reproduce. An invasive alien species is an alien species whose introduction and/or spread threaten biological diversity www.cbd.int/invasive/terms.shtml, accessed on 2 December 2008). (15) Based on expert opinion in the SEBI 2010 expert group on invasive alien species.
Climate change is having a detectable effect on bird populations at a European scale, including both negative and positive effects. The number of bird species whose populations are observed to be negatively impacted by climatic change is three times larger than those observed to be positively affected by climate warming in this set of widespread European land birds. The Climatic Impact Indicator, which illustrates the impact of climate change on bird populations, has increased strongly in the past twenty years, coinciding with a period of rapid climatic warming in Europe. Potential links between changes in bird populations and ecosystem functioning and resilience are not well understood.
Conservation status (1) is quite variable across the regions. A relatively large proportion of habitats (35 %) have a favourable status in the Alpine region but the situation is much worse in the Atlantic region where more than 70 % have an unfavourable status.That means their range and quality are in decline or do not meet the specified quality criteria. There are still significant gaps in knowledge on marine areas, except for the Baltic. (1) The reporting format uses three classes of conservation status. 'Good' (green) indicates that the species or habitat is at Favourable Conservation Status as defined in the Directive and the habitat or species can be expected to prosper without any change to existing management or policies. Two classes of 'Unfavourable' are also recognised. 'Unfavourable-Bad' (red) signifies that a habitat or species is in serious danger of becoming extinct (at least locally) and 'Unfavourable-Inadequate' (amber) is used for situations where a change in management or policy is required but the danger of extinction is not so high. The unfavourable category has been split into two classes to allow improvements or deterioration to be reported. (Assessment, monitoring and reporting under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive: Explanatory Notes & Guidelines DRAFT 2 January 2006).
Pollution of rivers with organic matter and ammonium is decreasing as are the levels of other anthropogenic nutrients in freshwater generally (rivers, lakes and groundwater). This reduces stress on freshwater biodiversity and improves ecological status.
European ecosystems are literally cut to pieces by urban sprawl together with a rapidly expanding transport network. The increase of mixed natural landscape patterns due to the spread of artificial and agricultural areas into what used to be core natural and semi-natural landscapes is more significant in south-western Europe. Fragmentation is in many places caused by forest harvesting and has a dynamic and cyclic nature but in south-western Europe, losses towards agricultural and artificial surfaces are more frequent. In the period 1990 - 2000 the connectivity for forest species was stable in approximately half of Europe's territory and increasing or decreasing slightly for another 40 %. The decrease was significant in about 5% of provinces spread in Denmark, France, the Iberian Peninsula, Ireland and Lithuania.
The ratio of felling to increment is relatively stable at around 60 %. This favourable utilization rate prevails across Europe, with the exception of Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and has allowed growing stock to increase.
The quantity of deadwood in Europe's forests, which is an important indicator for forest biodiversity, has strongly decreased since the middle of the nineteenth century due to intense forest exploitation and widespread burning of small wood and other debris. Since 1990, however, an overall increase in this indicator by about 4.3 % has been observed and this may be due to increased compliance with sustainable forest management principles. These principles should be considered in view of increasing wood demand, e.g. for renewable energy production.
Of the assessed European commercial stocks, about 45 % are outside safe biological limits (1) . (1) A stock is considered to be outside 'Safe Biological Limits' (SBL) when the Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) (the mature part of a stock) is below a biomass precautionary approach reference point (Bpa), or when fishing mortality (F) (an expression of the proportion of a stock that is removed by fishing activities in a year) exceeds a fishing mortality precautionary approach reference point (Fpa), or when both conditions exist.
This indicator currently has a limited scope and only contains information from EU funding of projects using the LIFE financial instrument for the environment. The amount of the EU contribution per LIFE project varies significantly among Member States. Newer Member States tend to spend less money through the LIFE Nature programme (with a small number of notable exceptions). Further detail is required (e.g. on project size) in order to interpret these figures. The LIFE Nature project represents a very small proportion of the total EU budget. European funding benefiting biodiversity may also be 'hidden' in budget lines within other policy areas, such as agriculture, rural development and research. Finally, the indicator currently does not show national funding for biodiversity.
Built-up areas, infrastructure and woodland are increasing whilst agricultural land, semi-natural and natural habitats decrease. The overall statistics hide more detailed transition patterns. Wetlands, for example, are mainly changing into forest; other (semi-)natural areas primarily give way to agriculture.