Every six years the Member States submit assessments on the conservation statues of species and habitats protected under the EU Nature Directives, and a report, ‘The State of Nature in the EU’, has now been published, drawing on these assessments for the period 2007-2012.
The report has found that whilst just over half (52%) of all birds assessed have a secure population status, 15% are near threatened, declining or depleted, and 17% are threatened.
For the species assessed, just under a quarter (23%) have a favourable conservation status, whilst 60% have an unfavourable status. Habitats are also in a similarly poor condition, with just 16% of habitat assessments favourable and 77% unfavourable.
For terrestrial ecosystems, the main pressures and threats come from agriculture and the modification of natural conditions, in particular hydrological conditions through, for example, reduction of habitat connectivity and water abstraction. For marine ecosystems pressures and threats include the use of living resources including fishing activities, modification of nature conditions, and pollution.
The report includes case studies showing the positive impact of EU funded projects in improving habitats and species, such as the Eastern Imperial Eagle, European Brown Bear, Calcareous grasslands and Boreal Baltic coastal meadows. However, looking at Target 1 of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy the report concludes “very little progress has been made in reaching the Biodiversity Strategy target so far.”
Commenting on the report, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “While it shows a mixed picture overall, it clearly demonstrates that efforts to improve vulnerable ecosystems can be highly effective. It also underlines the scale of the challenges that remain. We have to rise to those challenges, as the health of our nature is linked to the health of Europe's people, and to our economy.”
This report will feed into the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, as well as the Nature Directives Fitness Check. There is also currently a public consultation of the Nature Directives taking place as part of the Fitness Check. You can complete the consultation questionnaire on the European Commission website
. The deadline for completing the questionnaire is 24 July 2015.
Download the brochure and full ‘State of Nature in the EU’ report