Europe’s Biodiversity – a Rich Heritage at Risk

Making Space for Nature
© Wild Wonders of Europe/Konrad Wothe/WWF

Europe is home to an extraordinary range of habitats and species that make up our rich biodiverse heritage. From the peaks in the Alps , magnificent coasts in the Mediterranean, mystical forests in the Carpathians and rich river basins in the Danube, to the Iberian Lynx in Spain and the marine turtles in Greece . Biodiversity is the magic of our planet!

But this treasure is under threat.

The first assessment of European Biodiversity  (European Commission, July 2009) has shown that at least 65% of habitats and 52% of species of European importance are at risk of extinction.

The major direct causes  of biodiversity loss include human activities such as land-use change, intensive agriculture, pollution, unsustainable natural resources use and climate change.

In addition to these, failures in governance, shortcomings in political decision-making, as well as economic and market failures (more on causes of biodiversity loss in Europe ) are putting our natural resources under unsustainable pressure.

The services we get from nature are from free!

We humans are not only part of biodiversity but we heavily depend on it for our survival and wellbeing.  Protecting it and valuing and managing its resources in a more efficient way is not only key to our life and that of our future generations, but makes also sense from an economic point of view.

Natural systems based on healthy biodiversity provide us all kinds of services and socio-economic benefits, called ecosystem services.

Cooling and filtering the air, providing food, fibers, fuel, clean water, medicines and healthy soil, protecting from floods and soil erosion, storing carbon (important in the fight against climate change) are only a small part of the services that nature provide us for free.

Losing and replacing them these systems is either  impossible or will simply require investments that we cannot afford. 


  • It is estimated that Natura 2000, the European network of protected areas, can provide benefits worth a minimum of € 200-300 bn per year, and between 4,5 and 8 million jobs.