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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.

Data sources:

River continuity is key to improving the ecological status of Europe’s water bodies. However, very few free-flowing rivers remain and the barriers in them cause significant pressures for about 20 % of Europe’s surface water bodies. A European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing, published today, looks at the issue of river barriers and their impact on ecosystems.

A praying mantis in Cyprus, a huddle of butterflies resembling a flower, galloping Galician horses and an alpine sunset in Slovakia are the winners of this year’s European Environment Agency’s ‘REDISCOVER Nature’ photo competition announced today.

Unsustainable farming and forestry, urban sprawl and pollution are the top pressures to blame for a drastic decline in Europe’s biodiversity, threatening the survival of thousands of animal species and habitats. Moreover, European Union (EU) nature directives and other environmental laws still lack implementation by Member States. Most protected habitats and species are not in good conservation status and much more must be done to reverse the situation, according to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) ‘State of nature in the EU’ report, published today.

Published: 26 Jan 2021

Protecting ecosystems and biodiversity are key policy targets in the EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 and the European Green Deal. EU and national policymaking require approaches to be developed to measure the extent and condition of ecosystems to improve their management. This briefing presents the EEA’s work on ecosystem extent accounts and pilot ecosystem condition accounts in the EU INCA project. Examples illustrate the potential use of ecosystem accounting results to design measures to protect and restore European ecosystems, e.g. in implementing the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030.

Published: 24 Nov 2020

New approaches to biodiversity conservation or unexpected but irreversible forms of environmental disruption?

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