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Maintain and restore ecosystems – Target 2

We all depend on nature for food, energy, raw materials, air and water and more. This is our natural capital. The services provided by healthy ecosystems make life possible and support our economy. For example, pollinators (such as bees, hoverflies, butterflies and other insects) bring estimated benefits of around € 15 billion/year to the agriculture sector, through the pollination of agricultural crops. But many ecosystems and their services across the EU territory are now degraded and fragmented as a result of intensive agriculture, urban sprawl, grey infrastructure such as railways, roads and bridges, as well as the impacts of pollution, invasive alien species and climate change. The loss and degradation of valuable ecosystems also undermines the benefits that flow from nature to people and the economy.

What the strategy says

Target 2 of our Biodiversity Strategy aims to maintain and restore ecosystems and their services by including green infrastructure in spatial planning and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems by 2020. This will contribute to the EU's sustainable growth and help mitigate and adapt to climate change. It will promote economic, territorial and social cohesion and safeguard our cultural heritage. It will also ensure protected habitats are better connected, within and between Natura 2000 areas as well as in the wider countryside. By taking nature's benefits into account in socio-economic decisions, ecosystems can keep on providing their vital services. (Read the Strategy).

In practice

The strategy includes three specific actions to ensure that ecosystems and their services are protected and enhanced.

  • Action 5: Map and assess the state and economic value of ecosystems and their services in the entire EU territory; promote the recognition of their economic worth into accounting and reporting systems across Europe
  • Action 6: Restore ecosystems, maintain their services and promote the use of green infrastructure
  • Action 7: Assess the impact of EU funds on biodiversity and investigate the opportunity of a compensation or offsetting scheme to ensure that there is no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services

Some of the progress so far…

  • In October 2017 we launched preparations for developing an EU Pollinators Initiative to address the decline of pollinators. Its adoption is foreseen in 2018.
  • Two initiatives launched in 2017, in the framework of the Action plan for nature, people and the economy, will further contribute to Target 2:
    • Guidelines to support the deployment of strategic EU green infrastructure projects
    • Integrating ecosystems and their services into planning and policy decisions, including EU guidance to be published in 2018
  • A coherent framework and methodology have been developed for the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES).
  • In 2013, we adopted an EU-wide strategy on Green infrastructure promoting investments to ensure that natural areas remain connected together, to restore the health of ecosystems and allow species to thrive across their entire natural habitat so that nature keeps on delivering its many benefits to us.

The strategy mid-term review published in 2015 provided a detailed assessment of progress towards target 2 by 2015.

Further information

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