Indicator Assessment

Conservation status of habitats under the EU Habitats Directive

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-145-en
  Also known as: SEBI 005 , CSI 057
Published 18 Dec 2020 Last modified 11 May 2021
6 min read

At the EU level, only 15 % of habitat assessments have a good conservation status, with 81 % having poor or bad conservation status. Grasslands, dunes, and bog, mire and fen habitats show strong deteriorating trends, while forests have the most improving trends.

The EU is not on track to meet the 2020 target of improving the conservation status of EU protected species and habitats. At the EU Member State level, the majority of assessments indicate a low number of habitats with a good conservation status. Intensive agriculture, urban sprawl and pollution are the top reported pressures to habitats.

Conservation status of habitats at EU level, 2013-2018


The Habitats Directive protects 233 natural and semi-natural habitat types (called habitats of Community interest), which are in danger of disappearing, have a small range or are outstanding examples of biogeographical regions. The directive outlines requirements for their protection and sustainable use. EU Member States report on the conservation status and trends in targeted habitats every 6 years. 

Figure 1 shows the results of 818 assessments of the conservation status of habitats at EU level for the period 2013-2018. Only 15 % of habitat assessments have a good conservation status and 81 % indicate an unfavourable conservation status: 45 % poor and 36 % bad. Looking at the unfavourable conservation status trends, only 9 % show improvement, while 36 % continue to deteriorate at the EU scale. For more information see the report, State of Nature in the EU.

Of the habitat groups that were reported on, over 50 % of dune habitats and bog, mire, and fen habitats, have a bad conservation status, closely followed by grasslands at 49 %.  These habitats also have the highest proportion of deteriorating trends (each over 50 %), while forest habitats exhibit the highest proportion of improving trends (13 %). For more information see the report, State of Nature in the EU.

Across the different terrestrial biogeographical regions, the proportion of habitat assessments with good conservation status is highest in the Steppic region (72 %) and lowest in the Atlantic region (only 4 %).

Results of reporting under the Habitats Directive are also used to assess the progress made towards Targets 1 and 3 of the EU Biodiversity strategy to 2020.  Target 1 aims at improving the conservation status of EU protected species and habitats by 2020. This target has not been reached for habitats: a 12 % gap remains to be closed. Target 3 aims to optimise the benefits of agriculture and forestry for biodiversity. No real progress has been made towards reaching this target for agriculture: 46 % of Annex 1 assessments of agricultural habitats have a bad conservation status, while assessments of forest habitats revealed that 31 % have a bad conservation status. The EEA  publishes more information about progress to targets 1 and 3.

Conservation status of habitats at Member State level, 2013-2018


Member States’ reporting shows significant variations in terms of the conservation status of habitats within their territories (Figure 2). With the exception of Cyprus, Estonia, Greece and Romania, Member States report a good conservation status for less than 40 % of their habitats assessments. Belgium and Denmark have the lowest share of habitats with a good conservation status and — together with the United Kingdom — report more than 70 % of their habitats as having a bad conservation status. Some of the habitats with the poorest conditions are grasslands, such as Molinia meadows, as well as bogs, mires and fens. For more information about EU Member State reported data, see here.

Member States also report on pressures and threats to habitats and species. Overall, agriculture is the most frequent pressure, representing 21 % of all reported pressures. For example, both the abandonment of grasslands and intensification of their use, have a particularly big impact on pollinator species and farmland birds. Other key pressures are urbanisation and pollution, followed by invasive alien species and climate change. The EEA publishes more information about the main pressures and how they are addressed.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

The indicator illustrates the conservation status and trends of 233 habitats of European interest listed in the Habitats Directive at EU and Member State level. Conservation status is shown as good, poor, bad and unknown. It is based on data collected under the reporting obligations of Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).


Percentage (%) of assessments with good, poor, bad and unknown conservation status.


Policy context and targets

Context description

The new EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 contains specific commitments and actions to be delivered by 2030. One of its main instruments is an EU Nature Restoration Plan, with several aims, including strengthening the EU legal framework for nature restoration and requesting Member States to ensure no deterioration in the conservation trends and status of all protected habitats and species by 2030.

The 233 protected habitats, as well as over 1 000 species, are targeted by designating Sites of Community Importance, which are a part of the Natura 2000 network. For more information about the Natura 2000 network see SEBI 008 indicator: Natura 2000 sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.


EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030:
Key commitments of the EU Nature Restoration Plan by 2030:
1. Legally binding EU nature restoration targets to be proposed in 2021, subject to an impact assessment. By 2030, significant areas of degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems are restored; habitats and species show no deterioration in conservation trends and status; and at least 30 % reach favourable conservation status or at least show a positive trend.
2. The decline in pollinators is reversed.
3. The risk and use of chemical pesticides is reduced by 50 % and the use of more hazardous pesticides is reduced by 50 %.
4. At least 10 % of agricultural area is under high-diversity landscape features.
5. At least 25 % of agricultural land is under organic farming management, and the uptake of agro-ecological practices is significantly increased.
6. Three billion new trees are planted in the EU, in full respect of ecological principles.
7. Significant progress has been made in the remediation of contaminated soil sites.
8. At least 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers are restored.
9. There is a 50 % reduction in the number of Red List species threatened by invasive alien species.
10. The losses of nutrients from fertilisers are reduced by 50 %, resulting in the reduction of the use of fertilisers by at least 20 %.
11. Cities with at least 20,000 inhabitants have an ambitious Urban Greening Plan.
12. No chemical pesticides are used in sensitive areas such as EU urban green areas.
13. The negative impacts on sensitive species and habitats, including on the seabed through fishing and extraction activities, are substantially reduced to achieve good environmental status.
14. The by-catch of species is eliminated or reduced to a level that allows species recovery and conservation.

Related policy documents

  • EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy
    in the Communication: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244) the European Commission has adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. The six targets cover: - Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity - Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure - More sustainable agriculture and forestry - Better management of fish stocks - Tighter controls on invasive alien species - A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss
  • EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
    The European Commission has adopted the new  EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and an associated Action Plan (annex)  - a comprehensive, ambitious, long-term plan for protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems. It aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 with benefits for people, the climate and the planet. It aims to build our societies’ resilience to future threats such as climate change impacts, forest fires, food insecurity or disease outbreaks, including by protecting wildlife and fighting illegal wildlife trade. A core part of the  European Green Deal , the Biodiversity Strategy will also support a green recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.


Methodology for indicator calculation

Under Article 17 reporting, each Member State provides an assessment of all habitats of European interest (habitats listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive) at national biogeographic level, and supporting data, such as those on habitat surface area. EU regional assessments of conservation status are made by the EEA and its European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC/BD), based on data and assessments reported by Member States.

The conservation status of a habitat is derived using four parameters:

  • range;
  • area covered by the habitat within its range;
  • structure and functions, including the status of typical species;
  • future prospects.

Full details on the methodology are available from ETC/BD Technical paper 2/2020: State of Nature in the EU — Methodological paper, Methodologies under the Nature Directives reporting 2013-2018 and analysis for the State of Nature 2000.

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified.

Methodology references



Methodology uncertainty

Further streamlining and harmonisation of methodologies used by Member States are needed at EU level to reduce the differences that make aggregation and interpretation of data at the EU level difficult. The quality of the data reported (often based on simple expert judgement) also indicates that Member States need to further develop or complement their inventories and monitoring schemes.

Data sets uncertainty

Quality and availability of information from Member States impacts the quality of the EU assessment of status and trends.

Rationale uncertainty

No rationale uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 005
  • CSI 057
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled every 6 years
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage


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