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The European Environment Agency (EEA) publishes Signals each year, providing snapshot stories on issues of interest to the environmental policy debate and the wider public in the coming year.
Biodiversity — the variety of ecosystems, species and genes — is essential to human wellbeing, delivering services that sustain our economies and societies. Its huge importance makes biodiversity loss all the more troubling. European species are threatened with extinction and overexploitation. Natural habitats continue to be lost and fragmented, and degraded by pollution and climate change. Despite actions taken and progress made, these threats continue to impact biodiversity in Europe. The new global and EU targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2020 are ambitious but achieving them will require better policy implementation, coordination across sectors, ecosystem management approaches and a wider understanding of biodiversity's value.
The EU 2010 Biodiversity Baseline provides facts and figures on the state and trends of the different biodiversity and ecosystem components. It thereby supports the EU in developing the post‑2010 sub‑targets and provides factual data for measuring and monitoring progress in the EU from 2011 to 2020.
The present report considers the status and trends of pan-European biodiversity, and the implications of these trends for biodiversity management policy and practice. It considers the key biodiversity policy instruments currently applied in Europe, the threats to biodiversity and their management implications across major habitat types. The implications for biodiversity of cross-cutting issues such as tourism and urban planning are also considered, along with the challenges that remain for conserving and sustainably using of Europe's biodiversity. The report makes use of the SEBI 2010 indicators and other relevant national and regional information sources. It does not consider the biodiversity of EU overseas territories and outermost regions.
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.
Flyer: a living resource for biodiversity information
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.
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.
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.
A story in the "Our Natural Europe" series
A story in the "Our Natural Europe" series.
Scaling up ecosystem benefits - a contribution to The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study01 Jun 2010
The present report analyses options for scaling up existing estimates of ecosystem service values to larger geographical scales. It also presents a case study of wetlands at the European level and discusses the results and policy applications.
Towards an early warning and information system for invasive alien species (IAS) threatening biodiversity in Europe01 Jun 2010
Invasive alien species (IAS) have become a major driver of biodiversity loss, second only to habitat fragmentation in recent decade. Europe is particularly affected by alien species, which are invading the continent an unprecedented pace. Their impact means that many of the region's rarest endemic species are on the brink of extinction and that our well-being and economies are affected. Establishing an early warning and rapid response framework for Europe become a key target. The present publication is the EEA contribution to achieving this goal.
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.
Ecosystem accounting and the cost of biodiversity losses — the case of coastal Mediterranean wetlands28 Apr 2010
This report focuses on ways we can use land and ecosystem accounting techniques to describe and monitor the consequences of biodiversity loss in the coastal wetlands of the Mediterranean. These ecosystems are characterised by the close coupling of economic, social and ecological processes, and any accounting system has to represent how these key elements are linked and change over time. This report discusses the importance of estimating the ecological and social costs of maintaining these systems, and the problems surrounding providing monetary estimates of the services associated with wetlands. It also shows how individual wetland socio-ecological systems (SES) can be defined and mapped using the remotely sensed land cover information from Corine Land Cover.
Short assessment of the status of the European forest ecosystems
Signals takes us on a journey, following the course of water from the glaciers of the Alps to the permafrost of the Arctic and the delta of the Ganges. We travel to familiar and far-flung places, looking at how we can rebuild our relationships with the crucial elements of everyday life— water, soil, air — and the animals and plants that make up the tapestry of life on Earth.
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.
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.