Commission launches knowledge centre to reverse biodiversity loss and protect Europe’s ecosystems | EU Science Hub

21 October 2020. Commission launches knowledge centre to reverse biodiversity loss and protect Europe’s ecosystems | EU Science Hub

The European Commission launched a new Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity: a one-stop shop for science-based evidence to protect the natural ecosystems that provide us with food, medicines, materials, recreation, and wellbeing.

The Knowledge Centre will make the latest knowledge about biodiversity available to strengthen the impact of EU policies.

It will also help to monitor the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by the end of the decade.

The Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity will provide:
  • A one-stop shop for key information about biodiversity and the impact of related policies;
  • A platform where progress of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 can be monitored;
  • An interface for scientists to network, share research results and channel them more effectively to support EU policies.

By bringing together and fostering interdisciplinary exchange, the Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity will deliver up-to-date, robust, high-quality scientific facts and evidence to support the EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 in:

  • extending and connecting protected areas;
  • achieving the EU nature restoration targets and plan, which include, among others: conservation of pollinators and their habitats, reduction of pesticides and nutrient pollution from agriculture, restoration and decontamination of soils, and protection of forests;
  • reinforcing enforcement, compliance and implementation of EU law;
  • involving businesses, better financing, and integration of natural capital accounting systems;
  • supporting the global biodiversity agenda, through work on global biodiversity conservation, protected areas, deforestation, biodiversity footprints.

Launched during EU Green Week, the Knowledge Centre will directly address challenges uncovered by the first ever EU-wide ecosystem assessment (452 pages), produced by the JRC. The assessment  (the geographical coverage is the territory of EU-28 (EU and the UK) and the EU marine regions)shows that Europe’s natural areas – from its forests, rivers and lakes to its farmland, urban green spaces and soils – are under increasing pressure.

The authors find a wealth of biodiversity data exists that could help in taking the right action to alleviate these pressures, but that much of it remains unused.

  • The assessment finds that we are becoming more and more dependent on our ecosystems, which themselves are under increasing pressure from climate change and its related impacts.
  • There are some positive signs, such as the 13 million hectare increase in Europe’s forests between 1990 and 2015 and the growth of organic farms, which now make up 7% of Europe’s agricultural land.
  • However, the outlook for biodiversity is a cause for concern. Right now, 76% of the EU’s terrestrial ecosystems currently have no legal designation: forests, agroecosystems, urban green spaces and soils are largely unprotected.
  • Pollinator species are under pressure: the index measuring the abundance of grassland butterfly populations in Europe has fallen by 39% since 1990.
  • Europe’s rivers and lakes see less pollution and water abstraction than they did in 2000, but the speed of improvement has slowed down. Only 39% of freshwater bodies currently have good ecological status.
  • Several other trends are currently difficult to measure and assess, which hampers effective policy action. Europe’s seas are protected by a comprehensive policy framework, but data gaps limit the analysis of trends in the inputs of nutrients, contaminants, and litter.

As the European Commission’s in house science service, the JRC has experience of managing several

Knowledge Centres and is well placed to host and chair the Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity.

Developed in close collaboration with the Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment and the European Environment Agency, the Knowledge Centre will pull together a broad range of expertise in many areas related to biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity is the eighth European Commission Knowledge Centre and the seventh to be launched under the leadership of the JRC. It adds to those on Bioeconomy, Global Food and Nutrition Security, Territorial Policies, Migration and Demography, Disaster Risk Management, Food Fraud and Quality, and Interpretation (led by the Directorate-General for Interpretation).

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