Despite the progress achieved in fields such as Eco-innovation & Eco-efficiency new indicators setting and biodiversity monitoring at European level, it is still difficult to quantify the impact of pressures from various drivers on components of Europe’s biodiversity because available data were dispersed. To face these issues, the project addressed this requirement by developing a database that contains well-organised information on the ecological preferences of individual species, in relation to individual sectorial pressures and to selected Community policies. This tool is applied for assessing possible impacts and the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation policies as well as for forecasting future impacts.
The development of this tool has been carried out within a project coordinated by the ECNC (European Centre for Nature Conservation), which is located in the Netherlands. The project was funded by the EU Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme-FP6- (Specific Targeted Research: Priority 8.1.B.1. Sustainable management of Europe´s natural resources).
The aforementioned tool contains indicator values on the ecological preferences of more than 1000 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, butterflies, dragonflies, aquatic macro-invertebrates and vascular plants. These values are linked to policy-related pressures and environmental variables. The main goal of this tool is to make well-informed policy decisions regarding biodiversity, identifying which species (groups) are likely to benefit and which species might be negatively affected by the stimulation of a certain policy measure. Furthermore, the tool can be used for modelling European-wide scenarios for selected drivers (e.g. forestry and climate change) and can be customized upon request.
The assessment software has been developed in a series of steps. In the first step,
environmental pressures (e.g. fragmentation) are derived from selected policy sectors (e.g. transport sector) and related to Community policy instruments (e.g. Directives, regulations). In the second step, species are linked to the identified environmental pressures through environmental variables (ecological characteristics such as optimal habitat type, dispersal capacity, etc.), which are then simplified to sensitivity scores (based on expert judgement). Subsequently, species data are used to detect likely impacts on biodiversity of Community policies. The impacts detection comes through changes in the distribution of species due to changing environmental variables resulting from pressures. Ultimately, the obtained results allow policymakers to evaluate the current and planned policy measures, and to apply strategic planning actions in the future.
The tool can be used free of charge and is able to locate, by using existing spatial data, the areas where these species occur in Europe at biogeographical and national level. So, it reaches a 9 level in the TRL scale . Although the project ended in 2009, the project team would like to improve, refine and update the database. The project steering committee included representatives from policymaking (DG ENV, DG AGRI, DG, RTD) and other stakeholders: international NGOs, data providers, science and related European projects.