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International Day for Biological Diversity: EU Research

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

Biodiversity is the complex web of life on Earth, incorporating humans and our social and economic systems. The number of life-forms on Earth is unknown, but it may be some 20–30 million species, of which only about 1.8 million are known to science. Biodiversity can be studied at the level of the whole planet or confined to a mountain lake. However, whatever the level, the organisms interact in a complex, dynamic manner – both among themselves and with the non-living environment they share. Animals, plants and micro-organisms are a vital resource for humans, forming important elements in many processes on which we depend. .

European research is directed towards assessing and forecasting changes in biodiversity and understanding the dynamics of ecosystems, particularly marine ecosystems. The relationships between the environment, the society and the economy are analysed in order to identify – and mitigate – potentially harmful effects on the environment and on human health and society. Risk assessments based on European research allow us to better manage, conserve and rehabilitate our ecosystems in a sustainable manner for future generations.

Here are two examples of successful, EU-funded biodiversity-related research projects:

photo of petrol pumps in the meadow

A new breed of crops to help save the planet

Although fossil oils are dwindling, they are still our main energy source and continue to dominate the global chemical industry. However, the European Union (EU)-funded research project ICON helped breed crops to produce high-value plant oils that are expected to break the chemical sector's dependence on petroleum.

Photo of deers in the forest

How biodiversity protection efforts can achieve more

Protecting nature’s biodiversity is key to the survival of our planet and high on the European agenda. The European Union (EU) Habitats Directive, together with the ‘Birds Directive’, has identified over 1,000 animals and plant species in over 200 so-called habitat types, such as special forests, meadows or wetland.

 

For more information: