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IP/11/526

Brussels, 3 May 2011

Biodiversity: Commission announces new strategy to halt biodiversity loss within ten years

The Commission today 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.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: "We are part of biodiversity, but we also depend on it for our food, for fresh water and clean air, and for a stable climate. It's our natural capital that we are spending too fast – and we all know what happens when we borrow beyond our means. We should all be aware of the severity of this situation and our past failures to address the problem. The time has come to step up our efforts enormously. I am confident this new multi-sectoral approach will put us on track to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. "

Better protection for a world under strain

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 €15 billion per year in the EU. The situation is no less worrying at the global level.

The strategy adopted today 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.

Delivering on commitments

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.

Background

The planet’s natural and nature-based assets – from individual species to ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs, freshwaters and soils – are declining at an alarming rate. Biodiversity loss costs billions to the global economy every year, undermining economies; business prospects and opportunities to combat poverty.

In the EU biodiversity is lost mainly due to changes in land use, pollution, the overexploitation of resources, the uncontrolled spread of non-native species, and climate change. These pressures are all either constant or increasing in intensity. Only 17% of assessed habitats and species are in favourable conservation status and most ecosystems are no longer able to deliver the optimal quality and quantity of services we depend on, such as crop pollination, clean air and water, and control of floods or erosion.

Current global rates of species extinction are now running at up to 1,000 times the natural rate, mainly due to human activities. In the EU, about 25% of European animal species, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and butterflies are at risk of extinction, and 88% of fish stocks are over-exploited or significantly depleted.

Further information:

For full details of the content of the Communication, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/policy/index_en.htm

For questions and answers on the new strategy, see: MEMO/11/268

See also the Commission's biodiversity campaign:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/biodiversity/campaign/index_en.htm

For more information on the EU's post-2010 biodiversity policy see:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/policy/index_en.htm


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