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Diversity of species and habitats


There are many reasons why a particular species may become endangered and how it could be affected by new policies. Habitat destruction, introduction of exotic species and overexploitation are the most common reasons endangering the survival of special species.
Natural changes tend to occur at a gradual pace, usually causing only a slight impact on individual species. However, when changes occur at a fast pace, there is little or no time for individual species to react and adjust to new circumstances. This can create disastrous results, and for this reason, rapid habitat loss is the primary cause of species endangerment. The strongest forces in rapid habitat loss are human beings. Nearly every region of the earth has been affected by human activity, particularly during this past century. The loss of microbes in soils that formerly supported tropical forests, the extinction of fish and various aquatic species in polluted habitats, and changes in global climate brought about by the release of greenhouse gases are all results of human activity.
This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.

Guiding Question

Does it affect protected or endangered species or their habitats or ecologically sensitive areas?

Relevant policies

The 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive list 800 animal and plant species and 200 habitat types of EU importance and require their protection through Natura 2000, a network of linked special protected areas.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020 lists actions to help Europe reach its goal to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020.
The Sixth Environmental Action Plan and the EU Sustainable Development Strategy have biodiversity conservation as one of four top priorities.


Web Resources

Further sources of data

EUNIS biodiversity database:

Further sources of information

The EEA pages on biodiversity:
Natura 2000 Viewer


Eurostat Indicators

The following Eurostat Structural Indicators (Environment) are relevant to address the key question:
It is difficult to find indicators that demonstrate the effect on endangered species or their habitats or ecologically sensitive areas. A strong influence on endangered species, their habitats or ecologically sensitive areas is exerted by the amount of protected areas addressed by the Structural Indicator below:

  • Sufficiency of sites designated under the EU Habitats Directive

The following Eurostat Sustainable Development Indicators (Natural Resources) are relevant to address the key question:
A lot of Europe´s wild farmland birds are endangered. As population trends of wild birds reveal, the number of farmland bird species has crashed across Europe by more than 30% since 1980. Tree defoliation affects endangered species as well as other species depending on the damaged trees. Relevant indicators which are covered by Eurostat data are:

  • Common bird index
  • Percentage of forest trees damaged by defoliation

Through catches outside biological limits fish species get endangered and the number of survivable species decreases. Therefore the following Sustainable Development Indicator might provide a hint on this subject:

  • Fish catches from stocks outside 'safe biological limits'

Other Official Indicators

EU Biodiversity Indicators – SEBI 2010

  • Trends in abundance and distribution of selected species
  • Change in status of threatened and/or protected species
  • Trends in extent of selected biomes, ecosystems and habitats
  • Trends in genetic diversity of domesticated animals, cultivated plants, fish species and trees of major socioeconomic importance
  • Coverage of protected areas
  • Trends in invasive alien species
  • Impact of climate change on biodiversity
  • Marine Trophic Index
  • Water quality in aquatic ecosystems
  • Area of forest, agriculture, fishery and aquaculture ecosystems under sustainable management

Content for this term

Title Type Updated date
Bill Bealey Expert 2014-03-19 12:51
Diversitiy of Species and Habitats Impact Area 2013-04-15 14:53
Förster, Michael Expert 2014-03-05 09:39
Landscape ecological Analysis and Rules for the Configuration of Habitat Model 2013-11-26 08:29