The European Commission - Nature and Biodiversity
Biodiversity – the variety of Life on Earth – makes our planet habitable and beautiful. We depend on it for the food, energy, raw materials, air and water that make life possible and drive our economy. And we look to the natural environment for equally important things like aesthetic pleasure, artistic inspiration and recreation.
The EU is committed to the protection of biodiversity, and to halting biodiversity loss within the EU by 2020.
Over the last 25 years the EU has built up a vast network of 26.000 protected areas in all the Member States and an area of more than 750.000 km2, which is 18% of the EU’s land area.
Known as Natura 2000, it is the largest network of protected areas in the world, and a testament to the importance that EU citizens attach to biodiversity.
The legal basis for Natura 2000 comes from the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, which form the backbone of the EU's internal biodiversity policy. But protected natural areas cannot thrive in isolation: if we want to conserve Europe's natural capital, then agriculture, energy and transport policies must be sustainable too.
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For further information visit http://ec.europa.eu
The European Union’s Biodiversity Action Plan
Two of the greatest challenges humanity faces are halting the loss of biodiversity and combating climate change. They both have potentially devastating impacts on our environment, health and economy. Healthy ecosystems regulate floods, absorb greenhouse gases and protect us from increasingly extreme weather patterns and they are therefore vital to help us reduce and adapt to the impact of climate change. Biodiversity in Europe is under immense pressure. According to the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment, ecosystems have suffered more human induced fragmentation in Europe than in any other continent. Much of our land is being used intensively and urban areas are rapidly expanding into the countryside. Built up areas have increased by 20% in the last 20 years alone. As a result, almost half of our wildlife is in serious decline and valuable ecosystems have become degraded and fragmented, undermining their capacity to deliver valuable ecosystems services.
In 2001, the European Union set itself the ambitious goal of halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. The policy framework is largely in place at Community level. Important progress has been made and there are signs that the rates of loss are beginning to slow. But the pace of change and extent of implementation had so far been insufficient to meet the 2010 target.
The EU therefore decided to re-double its efforts, and the Commission launched a new Biodiversity Action Plan in 2006. This provides a strategic European response to tackling biodiversity loss and establishes a detailed set of target driven objectives and actions at both national and European level. In addition to a focus on implementation, the Action Plan also calls for the full integration of biodiversity concerns into all other EU policy areas, from territorial and rural development policies to fisheries and development cooperation. Partnership is essential. The Action Plan recognises that change will only happen if Member States and all sectors of society share responsibility for its implementation. It is also important to look beyond 2010 – delivery of the Action Plan is an essential basis for informing and shaping the post 2010 policy framework.
This brochure outlines key elements of the EU Biodiversity Action Plan and summarises its ten principal objectives, illustrating these with practical examples. It provides a clear demonstration of Europe’s strong commitment to halting biodiversity loss.
For further information download a copy of the The European Union's Biodiversity Action Plan.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.
For further information visit www.teebweb.org
The European Environment Agency
The European Environment Agency (EEA) is an agency of the European Union. Our task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. We are a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public. Currently, the EEA has 32 member countries.
The regulation establishing the EEA was adopted by the European Union in 1990. It came into force in late 1993 immediately after the decision was taken to locate the EEA in Copenhagen. Work started in earnest in 1994. The regulation also established the European environment information and observation network (Eionet).
EEA's mandate is:
- To help the Community and member countries make informed decisions about improving the environment, integrating environmental considerations into economic policies and moving towards sustainability
- To coordinate the European environment information and observation network (Eionet)
Main clients are the European Union institutions — the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council — and our member countries. In addition to this central group of European policy actors, we also serve other EU institutions such as the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.
The business community, academia, non-governmental organisations and other parts of civil society are also important users of our information. We try to achieve two-way communication with our clients in order to correctly identify their information needs, and make sure that the information provided is understood and taken up by them.
For further information visit www.eea.europa.eu
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015