EU Nature Protection Legislation – Focus on Species Protection






Biodiversity constitutes the core idea within the framework of the nature protection regimes elaborated in the EU law landscape. The term “biodiversity” or “biological diversity” refers to the variety of living beings on Earth. In short, it is described as the degree of variation of life on our planet. Biological diversity encompasses microorganisms, plants, animals and ecosystems such as coral reefs, forests, rainforests, deserts etc. Biodiversity also refers to the number, or abundance of, different species living within a particular region. It represents the wealth of biological resources available to us. It is all about sustaining the natural area comprising the community of plants, animals and other living things that is beginning to be reduced at a steady rate as we plan human activities which will result in habitat destruction.

The concept of biodiversity may be analysed on three different levels:

  • 1. Ecosystem Diversity, which means the richness and complexity of a biological community, including tropic levels, ecological processes (which capture energy), food webs and material recycling.
  • 2. Species Diversity, which describes the number of kinds of organisms within individual communities or ecosystems.
  • 3. Genetic Diversity, which constitutes a measure of the variety of versions of the same gene within individual species.
Biodiversity is measured by two major components: species richness, and species evenness. Click here for more information! Species richness is similar to species diversity, however it simply measures the total number of species in an ecosystem. The second component is species evenness, which gauges the proportion of species at a given site, e.g. “low evenness indicates that a few species dominate the site”.

Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, has its own important role to play. The significance of biodiversity in human life is multidimensional, since humans utilise the natural capital to satisfy their physiological needs including food, shelter, clothing, air, water, and energy. Among the valuable natural resources are forest, grazing land, ground, inorganic and organic materials, stones, streams, petroleum and trees. Other than the benefits to human beings, it is also important for vegetation, animal life and agronomy.

In 1992 the United Nations (UN) held a Conference on Environment and Development. At this conference, 192 nations plus the European Union came together to create the “Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)” Click here for more information! by highlighting that “at least 40 per cent of the world’s economy and 80 per cent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change”. Click here for more information! This quote succinctly sums up the value of biodiversity to our economy, our health, and our Earth.