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The EU biodiversity strategy: a current review of progress

The EU biodiversity strategy: a current review of progress


The mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 — COM(2015) 478 final



It provides a mid-term review of progress in implementing the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. The objective is to inform decision-makers of areas in which increased efforts are needed.


The report highlights the fact that, since 2010, biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services have continued in the EU and globally, despite some important progress in policy, improved knowledge and many conservation successes at the local level. This has significant implications for the capacity of ecosystems to meet human needs in the future.

The report assesses progress towards each of the 6 operational targets as follows:

Target 1: fully implementing EU nature legislation

  • Natura 2000 has been nearly completed for terrestrial habitats and has expanded in marine areas. The number of species and habitats in ‘improving’ status has increased slightly, but many remain in ‘unfavourable’ status and some have deteriorated further. The main challenges until 2020 are the completion of the marine Natura 2000 network and ensuring effective management and finance to support Natura 2000.

Target 2: maintaining and restoring ecosystems and their services

  • The knowledge base is improving and important policy frameworks have been established. The main challenges until 2020 include developing and implementing national and regional systems for ecosystem restoration (i.e. helping ecosystems that have been damaged or destroyed to recover) and green infrastructure, and ensuring no net loss of ordinary biodiversity.

Target 3A: sustainable agriculture

  • Intensive farming practices and land abandonment, along with urban sprawl and man-made infrastructure, are among the most prominent pressures on biodiversity. The common agricultural policy (CAP) for 2014–2020 provides a range of potentially effective instruments to protect and restore biodiversity. EU countries need to use these instruments to put the EU on track to achieve the target.

Target 3B: sustainable forestry

  • EU forest area has increased slightly but there are no signs of improvement in the conservation status of forest habitats and species covered by EU nature legislation. Forest management plans or equivalent instruments could play an important positive role in achieving the target, but their potential remains largely unused.

Target 4: sustainable fisheries

  • The EU has introduced measures for sustainable fisheries (common fisheries policy) and for good environmental status (Marine Strategy Framework Directive). Implementation has been very uneven across the EU and major challenges remain, especially in the southern seas. As a result of multiple pressures from habitat destruction, over-exploitation, pollution, climate change and acidification (i.e. when carbon dioxide is absorbed by the sea, reacts with the water, and produces acid), marine species and ecosystems continue to decline in Europe’s seas.

Target 5: combating invasive alien species

  • The EU is currently on track in addressing this target thanks to the adoption of the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation in 2014. Work is under way to propose the first list of IAS of EU concern. The next critical steps will require implementation actions by EU countries. Progress in other areas will also be crucial — in particular the ratification of the Ballast Water Convention.

Target 6: helping avert global biodiversity loss


  • The report concludes that the 2020 targets can only be reached with considerably bolder and more ambitious implementation and enforcement efforts, and with more effective integration with a wide range of policies. Achieving biodiversity objectives can contribute to the growth and jobs agenda, to food and water security, quality of life and the implementation of the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development.


Biodiversity, the unique variety of life, is essential to the EU’s economy and well-being. It provides essential services such as clean air and water, food, materials, medicines, health and recreation, pollination and soil fertility, as well as protection from extreme weather and climate change.

However, human-induced changes to biodiversity have been more rapid in the past 50 years than at any other time in human history. This is why the EU adopted its biodiversity strategy, which has the headline target of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, while stepping up the EU’s contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.


Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: The mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2015) 478 final of 2.10.2015)


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244 final of 3.5.2011)

Commission Staff Working Document: EU Assessment of progress in implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 — Accompanying the document Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council The Mid-Term Review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 (SWD(2015) 187 final of 2.10.2015)

last update 12.01.2016