New European Strategy to Halt Biodiversity Loss

The European Commission has presented a new strategy to protect and improve the state of Europe’s biodiversity over the next decade. The strategy includes six targets which address the main drivers of biodiversity loss, and which will reduce the main pressures on nature and ecosystem services in the EU by anchoring biodiversity objectives in key sectoral policies.

The global aspects of biodiversity loss are also addressed, ensuring that the EU contributes to combating biodiversity loss around the world. The strategy is in line with the commitments made by the EU in Nagoya, Japan, last year.

In Europe, biodiversity is in crisis, with species extinctions running at unparalleled rates. Many ecosystems are degraded to the point where they are no longer able to deliver the wide variety of services we depend on – from clean air and water to pollination of crops and protection from floods. This degradation represents enormous social and economics losses for the EU. Insect pollination, for example, which is heavily declining in Europe, has an estimated economic value of Eur15 billion per year in the EU. The situation is no less worrying at the global level.

The new strategy features six priority targets and accompanying actions to greatly reduce the threats to biodiversity. The actions include:

* Full implementation of existing nature protection legislation and network of natural reserves, to ensure major improvements to the conservation status of habitats and species.

* Improving and restoring ecosystems and ecosystem services wherever possible, notably by the increased use of green infrastructure.

* Ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and forestry activities.

* Safeguarding and protecting EU fish stocks.

* Controlling invasive species, a growing cause of biodiversity loss in the EU.

* Stepping up the EU’s contribution to concerted global action to avert biodiversity loss.

The strategy is in line with two major commitments made by EU leaders in March 2010 – halting the loss of biodiversity in the EU by 2020, and protecting, valuing and restoring EU biodiversity and ecosystem services by 2050. It is also in line with global commitments made in Nagoya in October 2010, in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where world leaders adopted a package of measures to address biodiversity loss world wide over the coming decade.

As an integral part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the biodiversity strategy will contribute to the EU’s resource efficiency objectives by ensuring that Europe’s natural capital is managed sustainably, as well as to climate change mitigation and adaptation goals by improving the resilience of ecosystems and the services they provide.

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