Biodiversity — Ecosystems

Destruction and loss of biodiversity is as catastrophic as climate change

Biodiversity collectively describes millions of unique living organisms that inhabit Earth, and the interactions among them. They represent a vital element of our lives but are under continuous threat. The conservation status of more than 60% of species and habitats protected under the EU Habitats Directive is unfavourable. This has fundamental consequences for our society, economy and human health.

European protected sites

The map shows an overview of protected sites in Europe. The EU’s Natura 2000 network and the Bern Convention’s Emerald Network are ecological networks of protected areas, set up to ensure the survival of Europe's most valuable species and habitats. Information about protected areas designated at national levels is reported by the 39 countries of Eionet.


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The preservation and restoration of Europe’s largely degraded floodplains, must be better prioritised according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today. The report says floodplains have a key role to play in improving biodiversity, water, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Amid a need for more accurate, up-to-date and harmonised data and monitoring on Europe’s valuable woodlands, the European Environment Agency and the European Commission today launched a new Forest Information System for Europe (FISE) which aims to become Europe’s knowledge hub to monitor the state, health and sustainability of Europe’s many forests.

Healthy forests, soils, seas and other ecosystems form Europe’s ‘natural capital’, which is vital for our well-being and the economy. The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) new analysis, published today, looks at how to measure the condition of Europe’s natural capital and provides a first overview of the state and trends of Europe’s ecosystems. The report also highlights the need for better data on the condition of ecosystems in Europe.

Published: 03 Mar 2020

Floodplains are part of Europe’s natural capital, covering 7 % of the continent's area and up to 30 % of its terrestrial Natura 2000 site area. Studies have shown that 70-90 % of floodplains have been environmentally degraded. The objective of this work is to showcase that natural floodplains support achieving multiple EU policy objectives. More specifically to show that natural and restored floodplains provide an alternative to structural measures for providing flood protection, and at the same time support achieving higher quality ecosystem service like improved water quality, improved conditions for biodiversity conservation and improved recreational value.

Published: 22 May 2019

Maintaining 'natural capital', i.e. ecosystems and the services they provide, is fundamental to human economic activity and well-being. The need to conserve and enhance natural capital is therefore an explicit policy target in the EU's Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and its Seventh Environment Action Programme. Approaches to measuring the stocks of natural resources that yield benefits as natural capital have gained considerable traction in recent decades. By providing regular, objective data that are consistent with wider statistical data, natural capital accounting can provide the fundamental evidence base required for informing economic and environmental decision making that delivers on these ambitions for natural capital.

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