Stop Biodiversity Loss by 2020?

A strategy calling for renewed action to halt biodiversity loss in the EU by 2020 has been adopted by the European Commission.

The strategy consists of six priority targets and 20 accompanying actions that address the main causes of biodiversity loss to enable the EU to reach this target.

It also sets out a vision for protecting, valuing and restoring EU biodiversity and ecosystem services by 2050.

The strategy is contained in a Commission Communication entitled 'The 2020 biodiversity strategy: our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020', which was published on 3 May 2011.

The Communication is accompanied by a detailed impact assessment study.

Context

This strategy to reverse biodiversity loss and speed up the EU's transition towards a resource efficient economy is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, in particular the resource efficient Europe flagship initiative.

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 worldwide over the coming decade.

The Strategy’s aim is therefore allow the EU to meet both its own biodiversity objectives and its global commitments.

Targets and actions

The 2020 Biodiversity Strategy includes six priority targets that aim to halt biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services, with each seeking to address a specific issue: protecting and restoring biodiversity (1) and associated ecosystem services (2), enhancing the positive contribution of agriculture and forestry (3) and reducing key pressures on EU biodiversity like unsustainable fisheries resources (4) and invasive alien species (5), and stepping up the EU’s contribution to global biodiversity (6).

Each target is broken down into a package of actions designed to respond to the specific challenge addressed by the target.

Target 1: Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives

The target is to halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation and achieve an improvement in their status. The aim is that, by 2020, 100% more habitat assessments and 50% more species assessments under the Habitats Directive show an improved conservation status, and 50% more species assessments under the Birds Directive show a secure or improved status.
Actions include:
1. Ensuring that the phase to establish Natura 2000, including in the marine environment, is largely complete by 2012. Species and habitats protection and management requirements should be further integrated into land and water use policies

2. Providing the necessary funds and incentives for Natura 2000, including through EU funding instruments, under the next multi-annual financial framework

3. Developing and launching a communication campaign on Natura 2000 by 2013

4. Improving and streamlining monitoring and reporting, developing by 2012 a new EU bird reporting system

Target 2: Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

By 2020, ecosystems and their services should be maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems.
Actions include:
5. Member  States mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory by 2014 and promoting the integration into accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020

6. Member States developing a strategic framework to set priorities for ecosystem restoration at sub-national, national and EU level by 2014. The Commission developing a Green Infrastructure Strategy by 2012 to promote the deployment of green infrastructure

7. Developing a methodology for assessing the impact of EU funded projects, plans and programmes on biodiversity by 2014

Target 3: Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry

By 2020, the Commission and Member States should maximise areas under agriculture across grasslands, arable land and permanent crops that are covered by biodiversity-related measures under the CAP so as to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and to bring an improvement in the conservation status of species and habitats that depend on or are affected by agriculture.

Forest Management Plans or equivalent instruments should also be in place for all forests that are publicly owned and for forest holdings above a certain size that receive funding under the EU Rural Development Policy.
Actions include:
8. Enhancing direct payments for environmental public goods in the EU Common Agricultural Policy

9. Integrating quantified biodiversity targets into Rural Development strategies and programmes, tailoring action to regional and local needs

10. Conserving Europe’s agricultural genetic diversity

11. Encouraging the adoption of Management Plans, through the use of rural development measures and the LIFE+ programme

12. Ensuring that forest management plans or equivalent instruments maintain optimal levels of deadwood, taking into account regional variations such as fire risk or potential insect outbreaks, preserve wilderness areas

Target 4: Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources

The target is to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015 and a population age and size distribution indicative of a healthy stock, through fisheries management with no significant adverse impacts on other stocks, species and ecosystems.
Actions include:
13. Improving the management of fished stocks

14. Designing measures to gradually eliminate discards, avoiding the by-catch of unwanted species and preserving vulnerable marine ecosystems in accordance with EU legislation and international obligations. Ensuring the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Target 5: Combat invasive alien species

By 2020, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and their pathways should be identified and prioritised, priority species should be controlled or eradicated, and pathways should be managed to prevent the introduction and establishment of new IAS.
Actions include:
15. Integrating additional biodiversity concerns into the Plant and Animal Health regimes by 2012

16. Establishing a dedicated instrument on Invasive Alien Species by 2012

Target 6: Help avert global biodiversity loss

By 2020, the EU should step up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.
Actions include:
17. Taking measures to reduce the biodiversity impacts of EU consumption patterns, particularly for resources that have significant negative effects on biodiversity, under the EU flagship initiative on resource efficiency. Providing the right market signals for biodiversity conservation, including elimination of harmful subsidies at both EU and Member State level

18. Contributing to international efforts to increase resources for global biodiversity as part of the international process aimed at estimating biodiversity funding needs and adopting resource mobilisation targets for biodiversity. Improving the effectiveness of EU funding for global biodiversity by supporting natural capital assessments in recipient countries and updating National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans

19. Systematic screening of EU development cooperation action to minimise any negative impact on biodiversity, and undertaking Strategic Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Assessments for actions likely to have significant effects on biodiversity

20. Proposing legislation to implement the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation in the European Union so that the EU can ratify the Protocol as soon as possible and by 2015 at the latest, as required by the global target

Next steps

The 2020 Biodiversity Strategy will be subject to a mid-term review in early 2014. The results will contribute to the preparation of the EU’s fifth National Report as required under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The targets and measures will be reconsidered as new information becomes available and progress is made on the objectives set in the strategy. The Commission invites the European Parliament and the Council to endorse the targets and actions set out in the Strategy.