EU Science Hub

World Biodiversity Day: mapping the EU's ecosystems and their services

May 22 2014

The International Day for Biological Diversity, held annually on 22 May, was designed by the United Nations (UN) to promote better understanding of biodiversity issues. Biodiversity, defined as variability among the living organisms on our planet and the ecological complexes of which they are part, is also an important research field for the JRC: a recent JRC co-authored report provides working guidance to EU Member States on how to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services.

The report presents indicators to assess and maintain the ecosystems and services provided by forests, croplands, freshwaters and seas in the EU. The indicators include, amongst others, pollination potential, forest biomass stock, water storage capacity of soils, soil organic matter, yield of food and feed crops, water quality, nutrient loads and oxygen concentration in seas.

Mapping and assessing ecosystem services is essential for the advancement of biodiversity objectives contained in many policy areas such as water, climate, agriculture, marine, forest, and regional policy. The report was compiled to support the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

This ambitious strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. Biodiversity loss is an enormous challenge in the EU, with around one in four species currently threatened with extinction and 88% of fish stocks over-exploited or significantly depleted.