Biodiversity and climate change in relation to the Natura 2000 network

Background

The Birds Directive and Habitats Directive form the main legal framework for protecting nature and biodiversity in the EU. Their objectives are achieved through the conservation of important sites.

These are combined to form a coherent ecological network - the Natura 2000 network.

Issue

The integrity of the Natura 2000 network is fundamental to the delivery of the EU’s commitment to halt biodiversity loss by 2010 and beyond. Climate change is likely to have serious implications for European biodiversity and the implementation of current policy. This project will provide the EC with:

  • An understanding of the implications of climate change for biodiversity across Europe.
  • Information on those species and habitats most vulnerable to climate change in Europe.
  • An indication of potential threats to species and habitats within the Natura 2000 network.
  • An assessment of the impacts of climate mitigation measures on Natura 2000 sites.


Results

This is an ongoing project, with three tasks running sequentially and a fourth in parallel with the others. Project workshops are held to review progress and ensure join-up between tasks.

Task 1 is a comprehensive review of the evidence base relating to the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in Europe. The review is providing information according to biogeographic regions and includes projections up to the 2050s.

Task 2 draws on the outputs of Task 1 to assess how climate change might affect the ability of the EU to halt biodiversity loss. The species and habitats most vulnerable to climate change will be identified and the related policy challenges prioritised.

Task 3 focuses on the impacts of climate change on the Natura 2000 network. The outputs of Tasks 1 and 2 will inform the assessment of threats to the network and the steps necessary to protect its integrity will be identified.

Task 4 is examining specific climate change mitigation measures (wind parks, hydroelectric schemes and tidal barrages) and their potential negative impacts on biodiversity. Technical guidance outlining best practice to minimise impacts on the Natura 2000 network will be produced for each mitigation measure.

Solution 

This project is being delivered by a consortium of four organisations (Ricardo Energy & Environment, Axiom, IUCN and UNEP- WCMC) offering complementary skills and expertise. Strong relationships have developed between the project partners, some of which have a historical basis linked to previous collaborations. Ricardo Energy & Environment’s Biodiverity Team has a recognised capability and strong reputation in this field and is leading Task 1 of the project.