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Europe has set ambitious policy goals to allow nature to recover and flourish. Creating protected areas, green and blue infrastructure, restoring ecosystems, rewilding and facilitating nature-based solutions to climate change can all contribute to reversing biodiversity loss in the EU.
The EU protects...
animal and plant species
species of wild bird
Europe's habitats and species under pressure
Despite some positive results of conservation action in recent years, the latest assessments of habitats and species in Europe show worrying results.
- 15% of habitats have a good conservation status, with 81% having poor (45%) or bad (36%) conservation status at EU level.
- 9% of habitats that have an unfavourable conservation status show improving trends; however, 36% of these habitats show deteriorating trends.
- Forests are improving the most. Grasslands, dune habitats, bogs, mires and fens continue to trend downward.
- Over a quarter of species have a good conservation status, which is an increase of 4% compared with the previous reporting period (2007-2012). Reptiles and vascular plants have the highest proportion of good conservation status.
- While 6% of the species with an unfavourable conservation status are trending upward, 35% show are trending downward.
Natura 2000: Key to protecting Europe's nature
Placing some areas under some protection scheme is essential for nature conservation. The Natura 2000 network, designated under the Birds and the Habitats Directives, is the backbone of Europe's nature protection efforts.
Many Natura 2000 protected areas are already connected by natural and semi-natural landscapes that provide ecosystem services, such as pollination, soil fertility, flood control and recreation. They are essential for climate change mitigation, as carbon sinks, and disaster risk reduction.
Our map viewer allows you to explore all the Natura 2000 sites, both on land and at sea, find out the species protected at that site.
What is Europe doing to protect nature and what is at stake?
How can we 'restore' nature?
Restoring nature can consist of a diverse set of approaches, including:
- Removing barriers on rivers — There are over one million barriers on European rivers, including dams, weirs and sluices. Most are small and obsolete, but they contribute significantly to the poor state of our rivers. These barriers prevent the downstream movement of sediment, causing blockages and altering habitats.
- Rewilding — Rewilding is a newer, more natural approach that involves restoring land to its natural and uncultivated state. By identifying spaces where biological processes are encouraged, nature has time to heal and start managing on its own again. Initiatives such as Rewilding Europe are working to increase Europe’s biodiversity in this way.
- Rethinking agricultural systems — Agricultural activities and other land management practices exert significant pressure on nature. The abandonment of grasslands has a tremendous impact on pollinators, farmland birds and semi-natural habitats.
- Transforming key systems — In addition to conservation and restoration measures, we need to fundamentally change how we produce and consume food and energy, develop and experience the cities we live in, and move people and goods around.