Attitudes of Europeans towards the issue of biodiversity

The European Union (EU) is committed to the protection of 'biological diversity', i.e. the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems1. The EU has been legislating on biodiversity since the 1970s and is committed to implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity. Today, one of the four priority areas of the EU's Sixth Environment Action Programme 2002-12 is nature and biodiversity. The 2006 Biodiversity Communication on Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and beyond: Sustaining ecosystem services for human wellbeing contains an Action Plan which aims to pull together actors and resources at EU and national levels to implement the actions that will contribute towards achieving the 2010 target.

This Flash Eurobarometer survey on Attitudes towards biodiversity (No 219), requested by DG Environment, asked EU citizens to clarify how familiar they were with the term biodiversity and with the concept of biodiversity loss. The survey also dealt with the following aspects relating to biodiversity loss:

  • The level to which EU citizens feel informed about biodiversity issues
  • The preferred information sources for learning more about biodiversity loss
  • Opinions about the major causes of biodiversity loss
  • The perceived seriousness of biodiversity loss at both domestic and global levels
  • The expected impact of biodiversity loss
  • Opinions on why it is important to stop biodiversity loss
  • Personal efforts being taken to preserve biodiversity
  • Awareness of the Natura 2000 network

The survey's fieldwork was carried out between 20th and 24th of November, 2007. Over 25,000 randomly selected citizens, aged 15 years and above, were interviewed in the EU's 27 Member States.  Interviews were predominantly carried out via fixed telephone, approximately 1,000 in each of the Member States except Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta where approximately 500 interviews were conducted.

To correct sampling disparities, a post-stratification weighting of the results was implemented, based on important socio-demographic variables. More details on survey methodology are included in the Annex of this report.

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