Europe is facing rapid environmental changes driven by increasing competition for land from housing and industrial development, transport and energy infrastructure, agriculture and forestry. Marine and terrestrial ecosystems are affected by overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, biological invasions and climate change. European protected areas are essential for healthy, functioning and resilient ecosystems, both on land and in the sea.
Recently stepped up efforts, including those to increase the area under protection schemes, have had some positive impacts but have not managed to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe. A more comprehensive and effective response is needed.
To this end, the European Commission has published a Communication presenting several options for development of a post-2010 EU vision and target. In a subsequent conference on protected areas, the Spanish Presidency of the European Union has also put forth its priorities for the post-2010 period. This process of defining the EU’s new biodiversity strategy will continue throughout the year and will contribute to the EU's position for global negotiations towards the new Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, expected to be adopted in October in Japan.
Policy makers now need a 'baseline' – a starting point for comparisons representing the current state of biodiversity – to measure trends in biodiversity, and consequently the effectiveness of policies. Building on its work on biodiversity indicators SEBI 2010, the European Environment Agency and the European Commission will present a first outline of the EU biodiversity baseline in June.
At the same time, the EEA and European Commission will also propose a blueprint for the 'Biodiversity Information System for Europe (BISE)', both an information technology tool and a network for building a shared knowledge base for biodiversity policies and targets across Europe.