How is it being used by the EEA?

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The EEA aims to deliver timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policymakers and the public to provide a sound decision basis for environmental policies.

Indicators are an integral part of this effort and assessments on the state of biodiversity rely on indicators. The biodiversity indicator on 'trends in abundance and distribution of selected species', taken from the Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI) process, presents population trends in common birds and grassland butterflies. Monitoring of both of these species groups relies heavily on biodiversity observations by volunteers.

These indicators have played an important role in measuring progress towards the European 2010 biodiversity target of halting biodiversity loss in Europe by 2010 (EEA, 2009) as measured by the SEBI and will play an important role in measuring progress towards the targets in the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Aichi Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the period 2011–2020 for the Convention on Biological Diversity (EEA, 2012).

Common birds

The data on breeding populations of common birds across Europe have been gathered through large-scale monitoring schemes based on fieldwork by volunteers, with a standardised methodology and formally designed monitoring schemes, through the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme. The project is undertaken through a joint effort from BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council (EBCC). The indicator shows the trends in populations of common birds (n = 136), common farmland bird species (n = 36) and common forest bird species (n = 29) since 1980. Overall, the indicator shows that Europe’s common bird populations have been reduced by around 10 % since 1980. Common farmland birds declined most severely, around 50 %, while common forest birds declined by around 10 %.

Grassland butterflies

The indicator covers 17 species of grassland butterflies and is based on national Butterfly Monitoring Schemes in countries across Europe. The indicator is based on the fieldwork of thousands of trained professional and volunteer recorders, counting butterflies on approximately 3 500 monitoring transects scattered widely across Europe.

The indicator shows that since 1990, butterfly populations have declined by more than half, indicating a dramatic loss of grassland biodiversity.


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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100