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Natural Capital

It's easy to forget, but we depend on nature for our very existence. It gives us the basic building blocks of our society, the healthy soils that give us food, the raw materials we need for buildings and clothes, the fresh water we drink and the clean air we breathe. These are the things we call "natural capital".

It's worth protecting. The EU has laws to preserve this capital, and ensure that it remains viable for future generations. We have a Water Framework Directive for our fresh water, a Marine Strategy Framework Directive for our seas, an Air Quality directive to make sure the air remains clean and free from harmful substances, and the Habitats and Birds Directives that specifically target our wildlife and the space it needs to survive.

Other laws cover areas like the fight against climate change, chemicals, emissions from industry and waste. They too help conserve our natural capital and protect it from harm.

In this section you can find out about biodiversity, about the threats facing our nature and our seas, our soils and forests, and you can see how Europe is protecting its natural capital through Natura 2000 and the LIFE+ funding initiative.