Conservation status of species under the EU Habitats Directive (2023)

At EU level, only 27% of species assessments have a good conservation status, with 63% having a poor or bad conservation status. Only 6% of all species have improving trends. Reptiles and vascular plants have the highest proportion of good conservation status.The EU did not meet its 2020 target to improve the conservation status of EU protected species and habitats. At Member State level, a large proportion of assessments show few species with a good conservation status. Agriculture, urban sprawl, forestry and pollution are the pressures on species reported most.

Published: 18 Nov 2021 13:16 ‒ 25min read

The Habitats Directive protects 1389 animal and plant species of Community interest, including endangered, vulnerable, rare and endemic species, or those requiring particular attention. The directive outlines requirements for their protection and sustainable use. EU Member States report on the conservation status and trends of those species every 6 years.

Figure 1 shows the results of 2825 assessments of the conservation status of species at EU level for the period 2013-2018. Only 27% of species assessments have a good conservation status and 63% indicate an unfavourable conservation status: 42% poor and 21% bad. The trends indicate that only 6% of species with an unfavourable conservation status show improvement, while 35% continue to deteriorate at EU level (for more information see EEA, 2020f).

The species groups with the highest proportion of good conservation status are reptiles and vascular plants, with 40% and 36%, respectively. Except for mammals, fish and non-vascular plants (10 %, 9 % and 6 %, respectively), improvements in unfavourable conservation status for other species are below 5 %. More effective conservation efforts are needed, especially for molluscs and fish, each with around 30% of species with a bad conservation status. (for more information about other species groups see EEA, 2020f).

Across terrestrial biogeographical regions, the proportion of species assessments showing a good conservation status is highest in the Steppic region (43%) and lowest in the Atlantic region (19%).

Results of reporting under the Habitats Directive are also used to assess progress made towards targets 1 and 3 of the EU Biodiversity strategy to 2020. Target 1 — to improve the conservation status of EU protected species and habitats by 2020 — was not reached for species, with a 2% gap remaining. Moreover, a high share of species assessments show further deteriorating trends. Target 3 was to optimise the benefits of agriculture and forestry for biodiversity. Analysis of grassland species assessments shows a mixed picture: only 5% of grassland species show an improving conservation status, but also with a lower share of deteriorating trends than other groups. The EEA publishes more about progress towards achieving these targets.

Member State reporting shows that there is significant variation in the conservation status of species across territories (Figure 2). Cyprus, Ireland, Estonia and Malta reported the largest proportions (over 50%) of species assessments showing a good conservation status. Animals account for nearly 80% of species showing improvements in status and/or trends and plants account for 20%. Belgium, Denmark, Estonia and Luxembourg report the highest proportions (over 20%) of species with improving trends, Cyprus is the only Member State that did not report a single deteriorating trend, however, unknown assessments exceed 75 %. Several Member States did not indicate any species assessment with improving trends (Bulgaria, Malta and Slovenia). For more information, see EEA (2020d).

Member States also report on pressures on and threats to species and habitats. Overall, agriculture is the most frequently reported pressure, representing 21% of all pressures reported, with both the abandonment of grasslands and the intensification of their use having a particularly big impact on pollinator species, for example. Other key pressures are urbanisation, forestry and pollution. The EEA publishes information on the main pressures and how they are addressed.

Supporting information

The indicator illustrates the conservation status and trends of 1389 species of Community interest listed in the Habitats Directive at EU and Member State level. Conservation status is shown as good, poor, bad or unknown. It is based on data collected under the reporting obligations of Article 17 of the EU Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC).

Methodology for indicator calculation

Under Article 17 reporting, each Member State provides an assessment of all species of Community interest (habitats listed in Annexes II, IV and V) at national biogeographical level and supporting data, such as those on habitat surface area. EU regional assessments of conservation status are made by the EEA and its European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC/BD), based on data and assessments reported by Member States.

The conservation status of a species is derived using four parameters:

- range;

- population;

- habitat for the species;

- future prospects.

Full details of the methodology are available from State of nature in the EU — Methodological paper: Methodologies under the nature directives reporting 2013-2018 and analysis for the state of nature 2000.

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Justification for indicator selection

This indicator covers species that are considered of Community interest, as listed in Annexes II, IV and V of the Habitats Directive, one of the main legislative pillars of EU nature conservation policy. The indicator directly indicates the extent of implementation and the success of the Habitats Directive.

Article 17 reportingwas also relevant for measuring progress towards several targets of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. It was crucial for measuring progress towards target 1 and contributed significantly to measuring progress towards target 3.

Scientific references

  • CBD, 2020, ‘Strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets’ Convention on Biological Diversity ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EC, 2021a, ‘Biodiversity strategy for 2030 - concrete actions’ European Commission ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EC, 2021b, ‘EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ European Commission ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EC, 2021c, ‘Habitats Directive reporting’ European Commission ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EEA, 2020b, ‘EU nature targets’ European Environment Agency ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EEA, 2020c, ‘Habitats and species: main pressures and threats’( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EEA, 2020d, ‘Messages from EU Member State reported data’ European Environment Agency ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EEA, 2020e, ‘Natura 2000 sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives’ European Environment Agency ( accessed 18 February 2021.
  • EEA, 2020f, State of nature in the EU - Results from reporting under the nature directives 2013-2018, EEA Report No 10/2020, European Environment Agency ( accessed 26 October 2020.
  • ETC/BD, 2020, State of nature in the EU Methodological paper:Methodologies under the nature directives reporting 2013-2018 and analysis for the state of nature 2000, Technical Paper No 2/2020, European Environment Agency European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity ( accessed 18 February 2021.

Context description

The EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 contains specific commitments and actions to be delivered by 2030. One of its main instruments is the EU nature restoration plan, which has several aims, including strengthening the EU legal framework for nature restoration, and requests that Member States ensure no deterioration in conservation trends and status of all protected habitats and species by 2030.

The 233 protected habitats, as well as over 1000 species, are targeted by designating Sites of Community Importance, which are part of the Natura 2000 network. For more information on the Natura 2000 network, see EEA (2020e).


EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 — key commitments of the EU nature restoration plan by 2030:

1. Legally binding EU nature restoration targets to be proposed in 2021, subject to an impact assessment. By 2030, significant areas of degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems are restored; habitats and species show no deterioration in conservation trends and status; and at least 30 % reach favourable conservation status or at least show a positive trend.
2. The decline in pollinators is reversed.
3. The risk and use of chemical pesticides is reduced by 50 % and the use of more hazardous pesticides is reduced by 50 %.
4. At least 10 % of agricultural area is under high-diversity landscape features.
5. At least 25 % of agricultural land is under organic farming management, and the uptake of agro-ecological practices is significantly increased.
6. Three billion new trees are planted in the EU, in full respect of ecological principles.
7. Significant progress has been made in the remediation of contaminated soil sites.
8. At least 25 000 km of free-flowing rivers are restored.
9. There is a 50 % reduction in the number of Red List species threatened by invasive alien species.
10. The losses of nutrients from fertilisers are reduced by 50 %, resulting in the reduction of the use of fertilisers by at least 20 %.
11. Cities with at least 20 000 inhabitants have an ambitious Urban Greening Plan.
12. No chemical pesticides are used in sensitive areas such as EU urban green areas.
13. The negative impacts on sensitive species and habitats, including on the seabed through fishing and extraction activities, are substantially reduced to achieve good environmental status.
14. The by-catch of species is eliminated or reduced to a level that allows species recovery and conservation.

Related policy documents

  • Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992. Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
  • EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. In the Communication: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244) the European Commission has adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. The six targets cover: - Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity - Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure - More sustainable agriculture and forestry - Better management of fish stocks - Tighter controls on invasive alien species - A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss
  • EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The European Commission has adopted the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and an associated Action Plan (annex) - a comprehensive, ambitious, long-term plan for protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems. It aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 with benefits for people, the climate and the planet. It aims to build our societies’ resilience to future threats such as climatechangeimpacts, forest fires, food insecurity or disease outbreaks, including byprotectingwildlife andfightingillegal wildlife trade. A core part of the European Green Deal , the Biodiversity Strategy will also support a green recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methodology uncertainty

Further streamlining and harmonisation of methodologies used by Member States are needed at EU level to reduce the differences that make aggregation and interpretation of data at the EU level difficult. The quality of the data reported (often based on simple expert judgement) also indicates that Member States need to further develop or complement their inventories and monitoring schemes.

Data sets uncertainty

Quality and availability of information from Member States impacts the quality of the EU assessment of status and trends.

Rationale uncertainty

No rationale uncertainty has been specified.

Conservation status of habitat types and species: datasets from Article 17, Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC reporting

Report on progress and implementation (Article 17, Habitats Directive)


StateBiodiversityConservation of speciesSEBI003Species


  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Percentage (%) of assessments with good, poor, bad or unknown conservation status.

Every 5

References and footnotes


What is the conservation status of species under the EU Habitats Directive? ›

At EU level, only 27 % of species assessments have a good conservation status, with 63 % having a poor or bad conservation status. Only 6 % of all species have improving trends.

What species are covered in the EC Habitats Directive? ›

  • Regularly occurring species. Invertebrate species: annelids. Invertebrate species: molluscs. Invertebrate species: arthropods. Vertebrate species: fish. ...
  • Vagrant species. Vagrant vertebrate species: fish. Vagrant vertebrate species: amphibians & reptiles. Vagrant vertebrate species: mammals (marine)
Oct 18, 2019

What are the ways to determine the conservation status of a species? ›

Many factors are used to assess a species' conservation status, including: the number remaining, the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates and known threats.

What is the annex 2 of the EU Habitats Directive? ›

The Annexes I and Annex II to the Habitats Directive list the types of habitats and the animal and plant species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation. Some are defined as 'priority' habitats or species in danger of disappearing and for which there are specific rules.

What is the EU policy on invasive species? ›

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 contains the commitment to manage established invasive alien species and decrease the number of Red List species they threaten by 50% by 2030.

What is the EU Habitats Directive 1994? ›

The Habitats Regulations

Regulations 1994. This piece of legislation is usually known as the Habitats Regulations. The Habitats Regulations cover the requirements for: protecting sites that are internationally important for threatened habitats and species – i.e. European sites.

What kind of organisms qualify to be protected under the Endangered Species Act? ›

“Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened.

What are the EU habitats? ›

The EU Habitats Directive protects European animal and plant species, which are endangered, vulnerable, rare and endemic. The Directive also protects several natural and semi-natural habitat types.

What are five species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act? ›

Scientific NameCommon NameFederal Listing Status
Ailuropoda melanoleucaGiant pandaEndangered
Aipysurus fuscusDusky sea snakeEndangered
Akialoa stejnegeriKauai akialoa (honeycreeper)Endangered
Alasmidonta atropurpureaCumberland elktoeEndangered
93 more rows

What are the 7 levels of conservation? ›

  • Data Deficient (DD) ...
  • Least Concern (LC) ...
  • Near Threatened (NT) ...
  • Vulnerable (VU) ...
  • Endangered (EN) ...
  • Critically Endangered (CR) ...
  • Extinct In The Wild (EW) ...
  • Extinct (EX)

What is an example of a conservation species? ›

An example of such a protected species in the United States is the country's national bird, the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). International laws protect whales of various species, and such agreements as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species prohibit commercial trade in designated species.

What are the protected species status? ›

Species are classified into one of nine Red List Categories: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, Data Deficient and Not Evaluated. Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered species are considered to be threatened with extinction.

What is the annex 4 of the European Habitats Directive? ›

Annex 4 description - Animal and plant species of Community interest (i.e. endangered, vulnerable, rare or endemic in the European Community) in need of strict protection. They are protected from killing, disturbance or the destruction of them or their habitat.

What is Article 6 3 of the EU Habitats Directive? ›

Article 6.3 of the Habitats Directive establishes a permitting procedure for any plans or projects that are likely to have a significant effect on one or more sites. This can be either individually or in combination with other plans and projects.

What is EU Habitats Directive Article 17? ›

The core of the 'Article 17' report is assessment of conservation status of the habitats and species targeted by the directive. The assessment is made based on information on status and trends of species populations or habitats and on information on main pressures and threats.

What are the conservation status of animals? ›

The IUCN conservation status records whether animal or plant species is threatened with extinction in their native home. The conservation status is based on up-to-date scientific information by specialist groups. This is published in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

What are the IUCN conservation status of species? ›

It divides species into nine categories: Not Evaluated, Data Deficient, Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct.

What is the IUCN status of the European mink? ›

Threats and Habitat Loss

The European mink is currently listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered due to the constant reduction in their populations.

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