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