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Glossary of summaries

Glossary of summaries


A contraction of the two words ‘biological’ and ‘diversity’, biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth in general, or the variety of living things in a given ecosystem or region. It covers all living things, ranging from bacteria, plants and animals, to humans.

Biodiversity plays a vital role in ecosystem services, which are the services that nature supplies. These include pollination, climate regulation, flood protection, soil fertility and the supply of food, fuel, fibre and medicines.

Since the 2000s, the EU has adopted a series of biodiversity action plans and strategies, the latest of which is the 2030 biodiversity strategy, designed to put Europe’s biodiversity back on the path to recovery by 2030. The strategy, part of the European Green Deal, contains targets and commitments to tackle the main causes of biodiversity loss:

  • land- and sea-use changes,
  • the overexploitation of biological resources,
  • climate change,
  • pollution,
  • invasive alien species.

EU biodiversity-related legislation includes:

  • the birds directive (Directive 2009/147/EC), which provides comprehensive protection to all wild bird species naturally occurring in the EU;
  • the habitats directive (Directive 92/43/EEC), which helps maintain biodiversity by protecting over 1,000 animal and plant species and over 200 types of habitat;
  • the water framework directive (Directive 2000/60/EC), which provides a framework for EU action in the field of water policy;
  • the marine strategy framework directive (Directive 2008/56/EC), which provides a framework for EU action in the field of marine environmental policy;
  • invasive alien species — animals and plants introduced accidentally or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment (Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014);
  • rules on wildlife trade (Regulation (EC) No 338/97 implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and going beyond the convention’s requirements, Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009 on trade in seal products and Regulation (EEC) No 3254/91 on humane trapping standards).