Biodiversity, flora, fauna and landscapes

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Biodiversity means the diversity of life in all its forms - the diversity of species, of genetic variations within one species, and of ecosystems. A rich biodiversity is not only essential for maintaining the ability to adapt to changes, but provides food, medicines, raw materials and many ecological and other services, such as purification of water or prevention of erosion. Goods and services provided by nature are of immese economic value. Population density and level of industrialisation have seriously impaired on biodiversity in Western Europe. To stop the continous decline of biodiversity is therefore an urgent need. Many ecosystems have been already lost and many others are under threat from a wide range of sources, e.g. urban sprawl and population growth, intensive agriculture, extension of road, rail and electricity networks, over-exploitation of resources (such as over-fishing), climate change as well as air, water and soil pollution.[1]

Most prominently, government leaders have adopted the target of halting the global loss of biodiversity until 2010 at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. Member States of the European Union have committed themselves to this goal.

The Sixth Environmental Action Plan and the EU Sustainable Development Strategy have biodiversity conservation as one of four top priorities. The European Commission has launched a Biodiversity Strategy, together with four action plans for agriculture, fisheries, natural resources and economic development and co-operation. The mid-term-Review of the Common Agricultural Policy is an important step towards reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture by cutting the links between subsidies and production levels. Also, the reform of the Common Fisheries Policies aims at limiting the over-exploitation of fish stocks.[1]

The European Union has committed itself to an ambitious Nature Conservation Policy. The 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive list 800 animal and plant species and 200 habitat types of EU importance and require their protection through Natura 2000, a network of linked special protected areas.

In order for the 2010 targets in relation to biodiversity loss in the EU and at the global level to be reached, the European Commission is planning various actions, such as developing biodiversity indicators, stronger efforts for policy integration regarding agriculture, energy or transport policy and the completion of the Natura 2000-network. Other action include efforts on the global level such as initiatives for benefit-sharing regarding access to genetic resources with developing countries, but also capacity building and technology transfer.[1]

According to the Impact Assessment Guidelines of the European Commission, the following key questions are of particular importance when examining the impacts of policy initiatives on biodiversity, flora, fauna and landscapes:

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 JRC: IA TOOLS. Supporting inpact assessment in the European Commission. [1]

This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.