This indicator measures proportional and absolute change in the extent and turnover of land cover categories aggregated to relate to MAES ecosystem types. The MAES ecosystem types are (1) urban; (2) cropland; (3) grassland; (4) forest; (5) heathland and shrub; (6) sparsely vegetated land; (7) inland wetlands; (8) rivers and lakes; (9) marine inlets and transitional waters; and (10) marine.
The data in this indicator are based on photo-interpretation of satellite imagery to give a picture of trends in the observed area and proportion of the major ecosystems in Europe.
MAES ecosystem classes correspond to the following CORINE sub-classes:
(1) urban: 1.1.1., 1.1.2., 1.2.1., 1.2.2., 1.2.3., 1.2.4., 1.3.1., 1.3.2., 1.3.3., 1.4.1., 1.4.2.,
(2) cropland: 2.1.1., 2.1.2., 2.1.3., 2.2.1., 2.2.2., 2.2.3., 2.4.1., 2.4.3., 2.4.4.,
(3) grassland: 2.3.1., 3.2.1.,
(4) forest: 3.1.1., 3.1.2., 3.1.3., 3.2.4.,
(5) heathland and shrub: 3.2.2., 3.2.3.,
(6) sparsely vegetated land: 3.3.1., 3.3.2., 3.3.3., 3.3.4., 3.3.5.,
(7) inland wetlands: 4.1.1., 4.1.2.,
(8) rivers and lakes: 5.1.1., 5.1.2.,
(9) marine inlets and transitional waters: 4.2.1., 4.2.2., 4.2.3., 5.2.1., 5.2.2.,
(10) marine: 5.2.3.
Changes in the extent of ecosystems influence biodiversity and ecosystem services and affect ecosystem condition.
- Policy relevance: the indicator is highly relevant for EU and global biodiversity strategies. Ecosystems are components of biodiversity as defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2021).
- Biodiversity relevance: the indicator is highly relevant for biodiversity because it indicates the area of available habitats and ecosystems across Europe. If an area decreases drastically it will have a negative influence on the species dependent on that habitat. In that sense, this indicator is particularly relevant for specialist species and endemic species that are dependent on particular habitats in the ecosystem and cannot survive in other ecosystems.
- Well-established methodology: the Corine Land Cover (CLC) classes methodology is widely accepted. The indicator is easy to understand and gives a simple and clear overview of the trends in ecosystems.
Related policy documents
- EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 : the European Commission has adopted a new EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 and an associated action plan — 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 and 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.
The use of remote sensing data implies that some degree of detail is lost. The Corine land cover data set is based on a minimal unit of 25 hectares and this implies that smaller areas of certain habitat types and linear features may not be adequately detected. Other data sets (e.g. statistical offices reporting for forests, cropland, grassland area) cannot be combined in this indicator calculation because the different definitions used as well as the different frequencies in updating will produce incomparable trends.
Representativeness of data at national level: time differences between regions may happen in most countries and these are documented in the CLC metadata.