Two new publications on European ecosystems
This autumn, two reports focusing on the status of European ecosystems were published. The “State of Nature in the EU”, and the “MAES: an EU-wide ecosystem assessment” both provide insights on some of the current trends and challenges faced by European ecosystems, including forests.

MAES: EU-wide ecosystem assessment

After 10 years of intensive work, the European Commission Joint Research Center released the final version of the “Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services: an EU-wide ecosystem assessment” (MAES report) in autumn 2020.

This technical document, which will be part of the evaluation of the 2020 biodiversity targets, provides an analysis of trends in pressures, conditions and ecosystem services using 2010 as baseline year. It assesses 7 ecosystem types across all EU territory, cross cutting issues such as climate change and invasive aliens species, and provides integrative narratives.

With regards to its chapter on forest ecosystems, the MAES report notes positive trends such as the increase of forest areas and reduced acidification and eutrophication in forest ecosystems. On the other hand, pressures such as the mean annual temperature, extreme droughts or effective rainfall are foreseen to increase with notable impacts of climate change and invasive alien species in the coming years.

In addition, pressures such as from forest pests, parasitic or insect infestation on forest ecosystems still remain unresolved in this assessment.

The summary for policy makers of this report will be published next year together  with the final evaluation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. In the coming policy discussion, the MAES report will be among the main technical framework tools for ecosystem assessment including for  defining the  future EU nature restoration plan.



State of Nature in the EU: results from the reporting under the Nature Directives 2013-2018

Officially published during the EU Green Week 2020, the State of Nature in the EU presents the result of reporting under the Nature Directives for the 2013-2018 period.

This report, prepared by the European Environment Agency, is an overview of species and habitats status, both at national and EU levels, which limits itself to the species and habitats covered by the Nature Directives. In this sense, its scope is narrower that MAES report’s one.

Due to discrepancies in national reporting methods, such as the use of expert or field assessment, the progress reported in the State of Nature in the EU are not necessarily fully comparable from one country to another and might present an incomplete assessment of the real situation. This harmonisation issue is addressed as  best as possible by the EEA but these discrepancies still remain to be taken into account when drawing conclusions on the overall assessment.

On a positive note, forest ecosystems show the most significant positive trends of their conservation status. Nevertheless, this report refers to “forestry activities” as a main source of pressure on species and breeding birds. Specifically, the three main sources of pressures from forestry are, according to this report: removal of dead and dying tree, clear-cutting, and removal of old trees This strong statement must be counter balanced with the fact that sources from pressure on forest species and habitats are not at all limited to forestry. Indeed, as shown in the State of Nature in the EU and the MAES report, level of pressures on forests from invasive alien species and changing climatic conditions are far from negligible and are expected to grow in importance in the near future.