Species of European interest

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: SEBI 003 , CSI 007
Created 06 Sep 2016 Published 28 Nov 2016 Last modified 28 Nov 2016
9 min read
This indicator shows changes and trends in the conservation status of species of European interest listed in the Habitats Directive, and in the status and trends in populations of wild birds in Europe that are listed in the Birds Directive. It is currently based on data collected under the obligations for monitoring under Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) . Both reporting obligations contribute to the further development of EU and international biodiversity policy by providing a reliable measure of the status and trends in nature at both species and habitat levels.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

MAIN ADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR

  • Policy relevance. This indicator directly indicates the implementation and success of the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. It is, therefore, highly relevant for Member States and EU nature conservation policy. Results are representative for the EU Member States and can be aggregated to the EU level.
  • The indicator is very relevant for measuring progress across several targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. It is crucial for measuring the progress towards Target 1 and contributes significantly to measuring the progress towards Targets 2 and 3.
  • The data are regularly collected by Member States and the methodology for data collection and processing is constantly being improved (under Article 17 Reporting Obligation of the Habitats Directive and Article 12 Reporting Obligation of the Birds Directive). This also reduces the additional costs required for the production of this indicator.
  • The formats for reporting to both Directives are discussed by the Member States and non-governmental organisations.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

This indicator shows changes and trends in the conservation status of species of European interest listed in the Habitats Directive, and in the status and trends in populations of wild birds in Europe that are listed in the Birds Directive. It is currently based on data collected under the obligations for monitoring under Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC). Both reporting obligations contribute to the further development of EU and international biodiversity policy by providing a reliable measure of the status and trends in nature at both species and habitat levels.

Units

The unit used in this indicator is percent (%).

Policy context and targets

Context description

This indicator covers those species considered to be of European interest that are listed in Annexes II, IV and V of the Habitats Directive. It also covers all wild birds species occurring on Member State territories, as listed in the Birds Directive. This set of species appears in the annexes of the Directive because they are perceived to be under some sort of threat at an EU scale. The species set covers various taxonomic groups, trophic levels and habitats.

Indicator trends should primarily be influenced by the implementation of measures under the Habitats and Birds Directives, such as the establishment and management of the Natura 2000 network and species protection measures. Therefore, the indicator assesses the success of the Habitats Directive, one of the main legislative pillars of EU nature conservation policy.

Targets

Target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 states that:
‘To halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation and achieve a significant and measurable improvement in their status so that, by 2020, compared to current assessments: (i) 100 % more habitat assessments and 50 % more species assessments under the Habitats Directive show an improved conservation status; and (ii) 50 % more species assessments under the Birds Directive show a secure or improved status.’


The indicator is also relevant for measuring progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, especially the Strategic Goals B and C: to reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use, and to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity, respectively.

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

Key policy question

What is the progress towards Target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020?

Specific policy question

What is the conservation status of species under the Habitats Directive?

Specific policy question

What is the status of bird populations under the Birds Directive?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Under Article 17 reporting, each Member State provides an assessment of the conservation status and trends of all species of European interest (species listed in Annexes II, IV and V of the Habitats Directive) at national biogeographical level, as well as supporting data such as species population sizes. Monitoring of conservation status is an obligation arising from Article 11 of the Habitats Directive, and is not limited to Natura 2000 sites. EU regional assessments of conservation status are made by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC/BD), based on data and assessments reported by Member States.

Under Article 12 reporting, Member States report on the size of and trend in individual bird species populations and distributions, including the main threats and pressures affecting species.

There is no assessment of conservation status by Member State for Article 12, as the term 'favourable conservation status' is not used in the Birds Directive. However, through a consultant (Red List of Birds Consortium), the European Commission assessed the status of bird populations based on criteria and thresholds adapted from Birds in the European Union (BirdLife International, 2004) and endorsed by Member State representatives of the Ornis Committee.

The conservation status for non-bird species is illustrated using three 'traffic light' categories: 'favourable' — green, 'unfavourable-inadequate' — amber, 'unfavourable-bad' — red, plus unknown) characterised by four parameters:

  • status of range and trend;
  • status and trend of the overall population;
  • quality and extent of the suitable habitat and trend;
  • future prospects.

 

The population status for bird species is also illustrated using three 'traffic light' categories: 'secure' — green, 'near threatened, declining or depleted' — amber, 'threatened' — red, plus unknown). Criteria and thresholds for determining these are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List criteria for threatened species on the EU-27 scale.

The indicator is based on the number of species assessments in the three conservation statuses, and the population status for birds, categories and changes between categories over time. In addition, the indicator also looks at current trends in species’ conservation and population status, as well as showing progress in meeting Target 1 of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020.

The baseline for measuring progress to Target 1 for species under the Habitats Directive is based on the proportion of assessments which were 'favourable' from 2001 to 2006, i.e. 17 %.

The majority of changes in conservation status in the 2007-2012 assessments reported by the Member States were due to better data or changes in the methodology used, with many species previously reported as unknown now being reported under one of the three conservation status classes. This in turn means that many of the EU assessments for biogeographical and marine regions also changed. As the nature of change was noted by the assessor for each EU regional assessment, it is possible to identify which assessments have changed due to different methods and improved data, and to 'backcast' the previous conservation status using the new data.

A comparison of the 2007-2012 assessments with the 'backcast' 2001-2006 assessments indicates that little has changed in terms of conservation classes, as only some 3 % of changes were reported as genuine (i.e. not due to change in methods, better data etc.).

Backcasting suggests that in order to properly assess progress towards Target 1 of 50 % more species assessments under the Habitats Directive showing an improved conservation status there is a need to change the baseline. The baseline for species should rather be 23 %, meaning that to reach Target 1, 34.5 % (23+23/2) of assessments must be favourable or improving. This means that instead of having already passed the target for species, progress has been made (23 % to 28 %) but further improvement is still required.

For bird species under the Birds Directive, in the only EU-level assessment conducted in the EU-25 in 2004, 52 % of species were assessed as secure. When this is taken as the baseline the target becomes for 78 % of bird species to be secure or improving in 2020.

Further information about conservation status assessment:

http://biodiversity.eionet.europa.eu/article17

http://bd.eionet.europa.eu/activities/Reporting/Article_17/Reports_2007/index_html

http://bd.eionet.europa.eu/activities/Reporting/Article_17/Reports_2013/index_html

http://bd.eionet.europa.eu/activities/Reporting/Article_12

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified.

Methodology references

  • State of Nature in the EU EEA, 2015, State of nature in the EU. Results from reporting under the nature directives 2007–2012, EEA Report No 12/2012, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.
  • Birds in the European Union: a status assessment BirdLife International, 2004, Birds in the European Union: a status assessment, Wageningen, BirdLife International, the Netherlands.

Data specifications

EEA data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Further streamlining and harmonisation of the methodologies used by Member States is needed at the EU level to reduce the differences that that make aggregation and interpretation of data 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

Due to improved data and changes in methodology in the 2013 round of Article 17 reporting, it is difficult to make direct comparisons and measure progress since the first reporting round in 2007.

Rationale uncertainty

MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR

Limited trend information: only one data set from Article 12 reporting and two from Article 17 reporting are currently available. The data are currently reported in a 6-year cycle under both reporting obligations, with the next data sets available after 2019. The Birds Directive and the Habitats Directives initially followed different reporting procedures and frequencies. In 2011, the EU Member States and the Commission agreed to revise reporting under the Birds Directive in order to streamline reporting in line with the requirements of the Habitats Directive. Consequently, reporting under Article 12 now also takes place every 6 years (the previous reporting cycle was 3 years). This change helps to synchronise Article 12 and Article 17 reporting and provide information in policy-relevant cycles.

  • This indicator is based on the EU Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive; a transfer to the global/pan-European level is not possible.

 

 

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
SEBI 003
CSI 007
Specification
Version id: 3

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 6 years

Classification

DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Related content

Data used

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100