Page expired Last modified 31 Jul 2015
The main causes of biodiversity loss are changes in natural habitats. These are mostly due to: intensive agricultural production systems and land abandonment; construction and transport (fragmentation); overexploitation of forests, oceans, rivers, lakes and soils; invasion of alien species; pollution; and — increasingly — climate change. For any policy to be effective in maintaining and restoring biodiversity in Europe, it must address these threats.

Habitat loss — a major concern

Habitat loss 70 % of species are threatened by the loss of their habitat (IUCN). Farmland birds declined by 20–25 % between 1990 and 2007 (Eurostat, 2010).


Overexploitation —  more sustainability needed

Overexploitation 30 % of species are threatened by overexploitation (IUCN). For instance: 88 % of stocks are being fished beyond Maximum Sustainable Yields (ICES, 2008) and 46 % outside safe biological limits, which means that stocks  may not be replenished (EEA, 2010).


Pollution — improvements in some areas

Pollution Despite improvements in some areas, 26 % of species are threatened by pesticides, and fertilisers like nitrates and phosphates (IUCN).


Invasive alien species — an increasing phenomenon

Invasive species 22 % of species are threatened by invasive alien species (IUCN).


Climate change

Shifts in habitats and species distribution are being observed, so is desertification. Climate change interacts and often exacerbates other threats.

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