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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 colourful jellyfish

How to protect Europe's seas

Increasing pressures on Europe's marine and coastal areas, particularly around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, highlight the need for these areas to become more resilient to human activities and natural change. There is a large scientific research effort already underway to identify some of the environmental baselines, but the challenge now lies in turning that knowledge into effective decision-making.

Photo of a school of fish

Placing Europe at the forefront of marine biodiversity conservation

The variety of life contained in our oceans plays a vital role in preserving the planet’s equilibrium and in contributing to human quality of life. Healthy marine ecosystems provide a range of precious services.

 

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