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

  • Access to Nature Reduces Health Inequalities: An IEEP Briefing

    Improving access to nature can help address health and social challenges across Europe and reduce health inequalities.

  • Can green infrastructure help conserve biodiversity?

    A new article, published in Environment and Planning and co-authored by IEEP’s Marianne Kettunen, explores nature conservation practitioners’ views on green infrastructure, including opportunities and risks related to its implementation.

  • 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.

  • Socio-economic benefits of EU Marine Protected Areas

    They are more than just a nature conservation tool – a study by IEEP shows how EU Marine Protected Areas help to maintain and improve the provision of a wide range of ecosystem services and related socio-economic benefits.

  • 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.

  • New report: assessing the benefits of marine protected areas

    Marine Protected Areas provide a range of benefits to human wellbeing, including providing food, mitigating climate change and creating opportunities for recreation and tourism. Further steps are needed to assess and communicate these benefits, this way supporting marine conservation both globally and in the EU.

  • Benefits of marine protected areas in the context of EU’s Natura 2000 network

    A scoping study by IEEP outlines a step-wise methodology to assess the overall benefits provided by the EU’s marine Natura 2000 network.

  • 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 ...

  • Nature, Health and Jobs: IEEP at Green Week 2015

    Drawing on recent work by the Institute, IEEP’s Patrick ten Brink will present at Green Week 2015 on Jobs & Growth through Green Infrastructure (3 June 2015 - 16:30-18:00, Session 2.2) and on Health and Social Benefits of Nature and Biodiversity Protection (4 June 2015 - 09:30-11:00, Session 3.3).

  • 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.

  • Guidance handbook for financing Natura 2000

    An updated ‘Financing Natura 2000 Guidance Handbook’ aims to inform national stakeholders about opportunities for financing the management of Natura 2000 sites through various EU funds during the 2014-2020 period.

  • New guidance for farmland management in Natura 2000

    New guidance for farmland management in Natura 2000 gives agricultural and conservation authorities a step-by-step guide to management and funding measures and practical advice on habitat and species management.

  • On the path to a circular economy

    Read the lastest edition of our newsletter for our views on the circular economy package and much more.

  • High Nature Value farming throughout EU-27 and its financial support under the CAP

    This study reviews Member States’ estimates of the extent of HNV farmland and use of RDP measures and the CMEF indicators, then identifies future priorities for CAP support for HNV farming and discusses the support opportunities under the reformed CAP. It offers detailed new evidence about the combined effect of Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 CAP payments on the economic and environmental viability of a typical HNV farming system in three Member States.

  • New report: High Nature Value Farming in the EU

    Member States need to make the most of the opportunities under the new Common Agricultural Policy if the declines in HNV farming, critical for meeting our 2020 biodiversity targets, are to be halted.

  • Environmental policy and the UK’s review of the EU Balance of Competences

    The UK Government’s Balance of Competences review has now taken evidence on 25 subject areas, including the 6 with the most relevance for the Environment. We take stock of the IEEP’s contributions, and consider what a possible UK renegotiation might mean for the environment.

  • Transforming our approach to water and wetlands

    Thursday 12th December: IEEP and UNEP are hosting two webinar discussions on the values of water and wetlands and how to mainstream these values into policy-making in order to promote wise use and management.

  • Assessing the social and economic benefits of protected areas in Europe

    A webinar on social and economic benefits of protected landscapes was organised by Europarc Atlantic Isles on 20 November. IEEP’s Marianne Kettunen kicked off the event by a European overview and some key considerations of assessing benefits in practice.

  • Social and Economic Benefits of Protected Areas

    A new book by IEEP researchers offers a comprehensive introduction to the socio-economic benefits of protected areas and provides step-by-step guidance on identifying, assessing and valuing the various benefits they provide.

Highlights