Improving biodiversity monitoring in Europe

Evaluation of user needs and policies of EuropaBON. Credit: Pensoft Publishers

The European data landscape is very fragmented in the field of biodiversity. The diversity of data collection and analysis methods often makes it impossible to compare the information obtained between countries. “Furthermore, many countries even have difficulty meeting the minimum biodiversity monitoring required by the European Commission,” says Professor Henrique Pereira, who conducts research at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and at the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and leads the project “EuropaBON” (Europa Biodiversity Observation Network). There are many reasons for this: too little funding, insufficient technical capacity, lack of support for long-term policy objectives, inability to access data from the agriculture, energy and fisheries sectors. , as well as some skepticism about the evolution of existing methods .

Yet data monitoring could greatly help shape policies and guidelines in an evidence-based way, as the first policy report of the “EuropaBON” project shows. The pan-European project was launched in November 2020 with the task of developing a unified, global and equally practical approach to monitoring European biodiversity and ecosystems. Since then, the team has conducted surveys, interviews and workshops with over 350 science, policy and conservation representatives. The specific objective was to obtain an overview of previous supervisory measures and the challenges associated with them, as well as to find initial approaches towards a common standard. “We are very pleased with the responses from stakeholders which paint a comprehensive picture of the current situation in many European countries. These now serve as the basis for a joint design of a new multinational biodiversity monitoring network in Europe with stakeholders from policy, science and society across Europe,” says Professor Aletta Bonn, Senior Researcher for the Policy Report, Helmholtz Center for Environmental research (UFZ), Friedrich Schiller University Jena and iDiv.

Consistent, high-quality biodiversity data are needed to meet the targets of the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. Under this strategy, Member States commit to restoring ecosystems that are threatened or already destroyed by 2030 and to halting the loss of biodiversity. “The EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 is currently at the heart of integrated policies. But to achieve its goals, European countries and the European Commission need more robust and comparable data at all scales,” says report co-lead Dr Ian McCallum, International Institute for Systems Analysis applied in Austria, adding that such data would help policy makers and scientists develop evidence-based targets and progress reports for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and their services.

A particular method is showing great promise for harmonizing the different approaches in Europe: the identification of “essential biodiversity variables” and “essential ecosystem service variables”. In its report, the EuropaBON team presents a list of the 15 highest ranked variables that could be used in a common approach. These range from marine bird and fish biodiversity to the distribution of plant and invasive species and land use change. However, most of these 15 variables are currently either not monitored at all or not adequately monitored in Europe.


From ambition to action for biodiversity: it’s time to empower stakeholders


More information:
Hannah Moersberger et al, Europa Biodiversity Observation Network: User and Policy Needs Assessment (2022). DOI: 10.3897/arphapreprints.e84517

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