The Birds and Habitats Directives are the pillars of our nature legislation. New laws now tackle specific issues such as invasive alien species.
The world's largest network of protected areas, it offers a haven to Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
We aim to protect all animal and plant species facing particular threats in Europe and work with CITES to fight illegal wildlife trade across the world.
The EU promotes nature-based solutions as a cost-effective alternative to traditional infrastructure. It's good for society, the economy and the environment.
The EU is taking several measures to protect forests and to value the ecosystem services they provide.
The European Commission calls on all world national parks, aquariums, botanic gardens, zoos, research centers, science and natural history museums to join forces and raise their voice about the nature crisis.
We all depend on nature for our food, air, water, energy and raw materials. Nature and biodiversity make life possible, provide health and social benefits and drive our economy. Healthy ecosystems can also help us cope with the impacts of climate change.
However, natural ecosystems and their vital services are under pressure from urban sprawl, intensive agriculture, pollution, invasive species and climate change. EU nature legislation, most notably the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, forms the backbone of biodiversity policy and the legal basis for our nature protection network.
Over the last 25 years we have built the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world, which is one of the outstanding EU achievements. Known as Natura 2000, it stretches across all Member States and currently covers over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 6% of its seas territories. The Natura 2000 biogeographical process encourages cooperation and makes sure that protection measures can be tailored to suit specific regional needs. We also work to protect species facing particular threats, including through an EU initiative on pollinators.
But protected natural areas cannot thrive in isolation. We have a strategy to connect these areas using green infrastructure to restore ecosystem services and allow species to thrive across their entire habitat. To protect native biodiversity, we also seek to address the problem of invasive alien species. Natural Capital Accounting provides an approach for quantifying our natural capital and integrating this into decision making.
21-10-2020: the European Commission in collaboration with the European Environment Agency releases its first EU-wide ecosystem assessment, which provides evidence that none of the EU headline targets to 2020 have been met!
20-05-2019: the European Commission adopted an EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, a comprehensive, ambitious, long-term plan for protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems.
06-05-2019: First Global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) strikes alarm about nature’s dangerous decline and calls for urgent and deep transformative changes. Media release
06-05-2019: New Eurobarometer survey on the Attitudes of Europeans to biodiversity reveals that Europeans are increasingly concerned about the state of our natural world. Press release
The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.