Indicator Assessment

Threatened and protected species

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-27-en
  Also known as: SEBI 003
Published 08 Nov 2005 Last modified 11 May 2021
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Species diversity can be conserved by establishing protected species lists at the national and the international levels. European countries have agreed to join efforts to conserve threatened species by listing them for protection in European Union Directives and/or the Bern Convention. Some, but not all, of the globally endangered species of wild fauna occurring in Europe in 2004 are currently under European protection status. The responsibility of the EU towards the global community for the conservation of these listed species is high.

Percentage of inclusion of globally threatened species occurring in EU-25 in protected species lists of EU directives and the Bern Convention

Note: N/A

Data source:

2004 IUCN list, Annexes of EU Birds and FFH directives and Bern convention

According to IUCN (2004), 147 Vertebrate species (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) and 310 Invertebrate species (Crustaceans, Insects and Molluscs) occurring in the EU25, are considered to be globally threatened, since they have been categorised as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable.


The overall assessment shows that specific protection status by European Union legislation and the Bern Convention exists for all globally threatened bird species, and for a fair percentage of the reptiles and mammals. However, most of the globally threatened amphibians and fish, as well as invertebrate species occurring in EU 25 are not protected at the European level. Information on whether these receive protection at national level, where they occur, is not readily available.


All 20 globally threatened bird species occurring in EU25 are protected either by   the EU Birds Directive (which, while protecting all bird species, lists in its Annex I a number of species for which strict habitat management is needed) or the Bern Convention (Annex II).


Up to 86 % of reptile and mammal species have been protected at the European level so far:12 out of 14 globally threatened reptile species and 28 out of 35 mammal species have been included in the the EU Habitats directive (Annexes II & IV), or the Bern Convention (Annex II).


Less than half of the amphibian and fish species have been protected under   European legislation so far; 7 out of 15 amphibian species and 24 out of 63 fish species have been included in the legislative lists.


The gap for invertebrate species is vast. Only 43 out of 310 species have been included in the above mentioned lists.


The indicator in its present form cannot directly assess the effectiveness of EU biodiversity policies. It can only confirm the extent of European responsibility to the global community and show the extent to which global responsibilities are covered by European legislation.  



Supporting information

Indicator definition

This indicator shows:

It will show how many species present in Europe and assessed as globally threatened are protected by European instruments such as EC Directives and the Bern Convention.


Number of species


Policy context and targets

Context description

Halting the loss of biodiversity  by 2010 is one target expressed by the 6EAP and the European Council at Gothenburg and re-expressed by the Environment Council in Brussels by June 2004.

This Council also emphasizes "the importance of monitoring, evaluating and reporting on progress towards the 2010 targets, and that it is absolutely vital to communicate biodiversity issues effectively to the general public and to decision-makers in order to provoke appropriate policy responses".


There are no quantitative targets for this indicator.

The target "Halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010" implies not only that species extinction must be stopped but that threatened species must be shifted to a better status.

Related policy documents



Methodology for indicator calculation

Protection of globally threatened species by European instruments

  1.  Extract from EUNIS the list of globally threatened fauna species categorized as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN) and Critically Endangered (CR) present in EU 25 in which both EC Directives and Bern Convention apply
  2. Based on this list, count the number of species by species group (Invertebrates, Fishes, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds and Mammals)
  3. Count the number of globally threatened fauna species by species group strictly protected by at least one of the categories of instruments:
    • Bern Convention, Annex II only
    • Bern Convention (Annex II) + EC Birds Directive (Annex II and III) + EC Habitats Directive (Annex IV)
    • Bern Convention (Annex II) + revised EC Birds Directive (Annex II and III) + revised EC Habitats Directive (Annex IV)

4. Calculate the percentage

Specific Notes:

For each group, the list of globally threatened species is extracted following the countries in which the regulations apply. Therefore the species distribution from IUCN database is used.

Subspecies globally threatened are considered as strictly protected if their nominate species was so. It is to be noted also that there is one genus of invertebrate considered by IUCN as globally threatened (Hauffenia sp., Hydrobiidae, Mesogastropoda, Mollusca). This group is mentioned as occurring in Bern signatory countries and Accessing Countries. Then, as the number of species concerned by this genus remains unknown and as no Hauffenia species is strictly protected neither by the Bern Convention nor by the EC Habitats Directive, the proportion estimated in the graph is probably higher than the reality.

Regarding the EC Bird Directive, as all the species are considered as strictly protected with special derogations for hunting and trade for a short list of species (ANNEX II & III), it is checked that no globally threatened taxa is in that short list.

Methodology for gap filling

No data gap filling is applied.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

Protection of globally threatened species by European instruments


Data sets uncertainty

Protection of globally threatened species by European instruments

  • In data sets;
  • Geographical and time coverage on EU level

IUCN red list is published every year but the update is made gradually by main species group. Because it is a global list, all Pan European countries are covered.


  • Representativeness of data on national level

The assessment of each species is made at Global level. At lower level (region such as European region), it is relevant to calculate how many species threatened at Global level are present in Europe. But at country level, some confusion can be made with the national assessment of species threatened at national level.


  • Comparability


Rationale uncertainty


Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 003
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage



Filed under:
Filed under: biodiversity, csi
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