The continuing loss of biodiversity – made up of genes, species and ecosystems – is a matter of growing concern in Europe. Yet measuring the extent of the loss and the threat it poses is a huge challenge.
In recent years the Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI) process coordinated by the European Environment Agency (EEA) has developed a set of indicators to measure progress against targets to halt biodiversity loss. The EEA has now reviewed the successful process which created the indicators in a new report.
The report, 'Streamlining European biodiversity indicators 2020: Building a future on lessons learnt from the SEBI 2010 process' summarises achievements to date and is intended to help form the next stage of improving indicators for new biodiversity targets for 2020.
The SEBI process started in 2005 as a partnership with a pan-European dimension. Almost 150 experts helped to build a set of 26 indicators which show among other things genetic diversity of domesticated animals, trends in species populations and the extent of selected ecosystems and habitats, including protected areas. Other indicators look at threats to biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources, funding to protect biodiversity and public awareness of biodiversity issues.
The success of the SEBI initiative was largely due to the comprehensive way it brought together existing data and expertise from across Europe, developing a rigorous process for identifying indicators which are most relevant for policy. Moreover, the process inspired development of national biodiversity indicator sets in several European countries and other regions of the world.
The report argues that the SEBI process is an excellent template for further improvements to biodiversity indicators, allowing us to gain a more detailed and complex understanding of how nature is affected by our heavy footprint. It is only with enhanced information that we can properly direct policy and raise awareness, in order to halt the loss of biodiversity and restore the ecosystems that sustain us.
23 September, 2012.