Biodiversity

Our Work

Our work supports the EU's objective of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services by 2020. This includes assessing the costs and socio-economic benefits of conserving biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, and developing evidence-based polices that help implement and finance EU biodiversity conservation measures. IEEP has extensive experience of biodiversity-related policy analysis in agricultural, freshwater and marine ecosystems and has pioneered measures to tackle invasive alien species and the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. We primarily work on policy analysis and development projects for the European Commission, but also contribute to the biodiversity conservation work of national governments, NGOs and other international governmental organisations.

The EU has a relatively well-established biodiversity conservation policy framework, now formalised in the 2010 EU Biodiversity Strategy, at the heart of which are the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive, which have created the Natura 2000 network – the largest network of protected areas in the world. These Directives include legislative measures that require Member States to conserve and restore EU threatened habitats and species, both within Natura 2000 sites but also where necessary in the wider environment. The Biodiversity Strategy also includes targets that aim to restore ecosystems and their services, support the biodiversity conservation measures in agricultural, forest and marine ecosystems, address alien invasive species and reduce the EU’s external impacts on global biodiversity.

Despite this impressive framework ecosystems continue to be degraded and biodiversity is still being lost. This is due to slow, incomplete or inappropriate implementation, including weak enforcement, a lack of funding, and some important policy gaps.

A fundamental problem continues to be the undervaluation of biodiversity and its limited capture in economic systems. Therefore a key area of our work is demonstrating the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to clearly show that biodiversity is worthy of protection, for its own sake and for its contribution to human well-being. This understanding is the basis for the development of policies that aim to support the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, for example through better regulations, cost-effective public funding (such as agri-environment schemes and other EU funds) and innovative market-based instruments (such as payments for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsets).

Latest in Biodiversity

  • What can the UK do to reduce environmental risks from pesticides?

    The UK’s action plan on sustainable use of pesticides aims to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticide use on the environment and encourage alternative approaches and techniques. How is the UK doing?

  • Will Brexit affect the UK’s actions to reduce the environmental impacts of pesticides?

    The UK’s action plan on sustainable use of pesticides aims to reduce the impacts of pesticide use on the environment and encourage alternative approaches. How is the UK doing and how could Brexit change the government’s approach to pesticides?

  • IEEP at CBD COP13: Europe’s experience with innovative financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation

    IEEP’s work on innovative financing for EU biodiversity conservation was presented in Cancun, Mexico at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

  • Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives

    The Nature Directives (i.e. Birds Directive and Habitats Directive) are the key instruments of EU environmental policy; the Fitness Check support study, carried out by Milieu, IEEP and ICF for the European Commission DG-ENV, examined their effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, EU-added value and their coherence with the wider acquis.

  • Are Ecological Focus Areas delivering for biodiversity?

    Ecological Focus Areas are intended to safeguard and improve biodiversity on arable farms in the EU. What evidence is there that they are actually delivering biodiversity on farmland?

  • Ecological Focus Areas – what are their impacts on biodiversity?

    Ecological Focus Areas are intended to safeguard and improve biodiversity on arable farms in the EU. This IEEP study for EEB and BirdLife examined the evidence for potential biodiversity impacts on farmland, taking into account how the areas are being managed.

  • Biodiversity offsets: What did the UK pilot scheme achieve?

    Voluntary biodiversity offsetting was piloted in six English areas by local planning authorities and stakeholder organisations who agreed to take part in the government programme. IEEP and Collingwood Environmental Planning, together with David Tyldesley, assessed the UK government programme from 2012 to 2014.

  • The impacts of the UK’s low carbon energy policy on biodiversity: evidence and policy tools

    The study reviews evidence of the impacts of UK's low carbon energy policy on biodiversity in the UK and abroad, and incorporates biodiversity effects of low carbon energy scenarios into the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change 2050 pathway calculator tool.

  • Improving environmental financing via result-based agri-environment measures

    A new article by IEEP explores the use of result-based agri-environment measures in the region of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The study shows that result-based schemes can increase the environmental effectiveness and conditionality of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

  • Wildlife crime and the EU

    Wildlife crime threatens global biodiversity. The EU is both a destination and a transit region for illegally-traded products. A new study for the European Parliament summarises the situation in Europe and offers policy recommendations in view of the upcoming EU Action Plan. A set of in-depth case studies outline the situation in five EU countries.

  • New report launch: Call for a new vision for responsible renewable energy with a clear European dimension

    Claude Turmes MEP hosted an event launching both IEEP’s report and a debate on the future of renewable energy in Europe. In the our report IEEP present how a resource efficient energy system might be delivered in a way that minimises impact on biodiversity and the wider environment.

  • A New Vision for Responsible Renewable Energy with a Clear European Dimension

    Renewable energy is key to the decarbonisation of Europe’s energy supply, however, the scale of expansion needed will have significant impacts over a considerable area. This new report suggests how a resource efficient energy system might be delivered in a way that minimises and mitigates impacts on biodiversity and the wider environment.

  • Conference on the Fitness Check of EU Nature Legislation

    As part of the fitness check of the EU Nature Directives, the European Commission is organising a high-level conference in Brussels on 20 November. The purpose of the conference is to present and discuss the emerging findings from the assessment of evidence and information gathered during the process.

  • Protected area approaches in the EU

    Protected areas play an important role in achieving biodiversity conservation targets. IEEP has compared the approaches and rationale of designating and managing protected areas in the UK and a selection of eight other EU Member States.

  • CAP greening: what are its environmental prospects?

    A significant injection of money was agreed for ‘green’ farming practices under the recent CAP reform. This report examines the environmental impact these measures are likely to have on the ground and concludes that Member States’ implementation choices appear to have much diminished the chances of the greening measures delivering significant additional environmental benefits.

  • Tracking biodiversity expenditure in the EU budget

    The European Commission is in the process of developing a methodology to track biodiversity related expenditure in the EU budget. This effort is similar to the parallel process for tracking ...

  • Result-based agri-environment measures: market-based instruments, incentives or rewards?

    Result-based schemes are innovative agri-environment measures, which remunerate farmers only if they can demonstrate to have achieved the desired environmental goal. This is different from ...

  • Biodiversity offsets: design of biodiversity metrics and mechanisms for securing long term conservation benefits

    This study by ICF International, IEEP and national experts reviewed international best practice for designing biodiversity offsetting metrics and establishing mechanisms for ensuring long term conservation benefits from offsetting. It explores options for implementation at the European level and possible challenges. The report follows up on the IEEP report on policy options to achieve no net loss of biodiversity.

  • How is favourable conservation status being defined across the EU?

    The core objective of both nature directives is to achieve a favourable conservation status of European protected habitats and species. An understanding of how these criteria for conservation status have been interpreted and implemented across the Member States is important as greater uniformity in the interpretation could improve the quality of biodiversity reporting at the European level.

  • Looking beyond Paris

    The latest edition of IEEP's newsletter is now available. David Baldock argues that in the next six months the EU has a substantive role in contributing to agreement on an ambitious but credible set of SDGs and more stretching climate targets. Also: energy efficiency and security; bioeconomy; and circular economy.