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EU Biodiversity strategy to 2020: mid-term assessment

Written by Dessislava Yougova
EU Biodiversity strategy to 2020: mid-term assessment

© M.Gove / Fotolia

In 2011, the EU adopted a Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 aiming ‘to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020 and to restore them as far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss’ . The strategy has six mutually supportive targets and twenty related actions and has also to meet Convention of Biodiversity global targets.

On 2 October 2015, the Commission published its mid-term assessment report which draws a rather lukewarm picture of the results of EU biodiversity policy. Several reports (see below) had already sent out alarm signals regarding the continued erosion of Europe’s biodiversity (EEA, SOER 2015).

In this context, the “fitness check” of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, which are the main pieces of the EU legislation on nature, pours oil on the flames. In the framework of the Luxembourg EU Council Presidency, Camille Gira, Luxembourg’s Secretary of State for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure was invited by the Committee of the Regions to a round table on the subject. Gira gave active support to both legislative instruments and concluded that ‘the mid-term review is an opportunity to draw the right conclusions to get us back on track to achieving our biodiversity goals’ .

A public hearing was held in the European Parliament on 12 October 2015 to discuss the challenges faced by EU biodiversity and the opportunities provided by ecosystems. An own-initiative report is expected to be adopted by the Environment Committee in December 2015, in response to the EEA report on the State of Nature in Europe and to the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy. This will also constitute Parliament’s contribution to the ongoing fitness check of legislation on nature.

EPRS publications.
Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements , EPRS in-depth analysis, Didier Bourguignon, May 2015, 29 p.
Ecosystem services: Valuing our natural capital, EPRS briefing, Didier Bourguignon, March 2015, 7 p.

Biodiversity: the state of play in the EU

State of nature in the EU , EEA, May 2015, 178 p.
This report provides facts and figures on the state of nature in the EU. It is based on reports from Member States under the Birds and the Habitats directives and on assessments at EU level. See also EC Press release and article in ENDS Europe.

Biodiversity , in: The European environment: state and outlook (SOER) 2015 , EEA, March 2015
According to this study “the main EU target of ‘halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services’ by 2020 remains a serious challenge. Recent data show that 60% of species assessments and 77% of habitat assessments continue to be in unfavourable conservation status. Constant habitat loss, diffuse pollution, over-exploitation of resources, and growing impacts of invasive alien species and climate change contribute cumulatively”. See also the chapter Growing pressures on ecosystems.

Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 , CBD, 2014, 156 p.
Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) is the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is a periodic report that summarizes the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity. Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 is a mid-term assessment of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. See also the article in ENDS Europe.

What is biodiversity and why is it important? , FERN, 2014, 5 p.
This short briefing note explains the term of biodiversity and points out the main raisons for the current state of the nature in the EU with special focus on forest ecosystems.

EU biodiversity policy

Halfway there? , BirdLife, May 2015, 76 p.
This mid-term assessment of the progress on the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy concludes that despite the success of the EU nature legislation, Europe is “far from halting biodiversity loss, as many plants and animals are threatened with extinction in the EU”. The main reason is “the poor implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives”. Assessing the progress under the six targets of the EU Biodiversity strategy, it recommends more financing, better implementation and enforcement of the EU law, more political will for restoring degraded ecosystems, expanding green infrastructure and supporting the Natura 2000 network. See also summary and article in ENDS Europe.

Review of favourable conservation status and Birds directive Article 2 interpretation within the European Union , A.J. McConville, G.M.Tucker, IEEP, May 2015, 111 p.
The core objective of the Birds and Habitats Directives is to achieve a favourable conservation status of habitats and species of European importance. This study analyses how the concept of favourable conservation status has been interpreted and implemented across the Member States and identifies examples of good practice.

Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services and biodiversity , In-depth report, Science for Environment Policy, May 2015, 32 p.
This report analyses the links between biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to understand if the implementation of ecosystem services framework will also protect the biodiversity. The focus is on the synergies and trade-offs among multiple ecosystem services and the fundamental role of biodiversity. It examines also the mapping techniques which quantify state of ecosystems and their services, as well as the progress towards integrated valuation of the benefits that ecosystems provide.

European ecosystem assessment: concept, data, and implementation , EEA, 2015, 74 p.
This report outlines and explains the major elements for mapping pressures, ecosystem conditions and impacts in order to provide a ” first overview on how pressures affect ecosystem conditions, habitat quality and biodiversity, and how pressures and conditions are changing over time”. It is a contribution to Target 2 Action 5 ‘Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)’ of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB): Challenges and responses , 2014, 16 p.
This publication describes the life of TEEB to date. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative was launched by Germany and the European Commission in 2007 in order to mainstream the economics of nature. The objective is to draw attention to the invisibility of nature in the economic choices made by policy-makers, public administration, and business.

A synthesis of approaches to assess and value ecosystem services in the EU in the context of TEEB , Roy Brouwer [et al.], Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Amsterdam, May 2013, 144 p.
This report overviews different initiatives to classify, assess and value ecosystem services at national and regional level in EU Member States. It describes the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative assessment option.

The multifunctionality of green infrastructure : In-depth report, Science for environment policy, EC, March 2012, 40 p.
Green Infrastructure (GI) is the network of natural and semi-natural areas, features and green spaces in rural and urban, terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine areas. This report describes the different functions of GI as a tool for providing ecological, economic and social benefits through natural solutions and outlines its ability to provide several functions and benefits on the same spatial area.

Biodiversity offsetting

Biodiversity offsets: design of biodiversity metrics and mechanisms for securing long term conservation benefits , IEEP, May 2015, 181 p.
This report reviews international best practice on how to measure biodiversity losses and gains from offsets. It also looks at how to ensure effective conservation activities through regulatory and management systems, how to secure long term land use and how to ensure financial sustainability of conservation management over time. Finally, it explores the implementation issues that could be faced in the EU.

What is biodiversity offsetting and why is it problematic? , FERN, 2014, 6 p.
According to this briefing the biodiversity offsetting causes more problems than it solves.

Policy options to achieve no net loss of biodiversity , IEEP, January 2014, 338 p.
This study identifies related policy gaps and proposes policy options to achieve the ‘no net loss’ target, including biodiversity offsetting. The aim of this is to achieve the target by fully compensating for losses that cannot be avoided.

Exploring potential demand for and supply of habitat banking in the EU and appropriate design elements for a habitat banking scheme , ICF GHK / BIO IS, January 2013, 158 p.
This report presents the findings of a research project undertaken by GHK Consulting and BIO Intelligence Service for DG Environment.
See also executive summary and annexes.

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