- Climate change
- Ecosystem services
- Ecosystems and habitats
- Genetic resources
- Green infrastructure
- Invasive species
- LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity Projects
- Land use change
- Protected areas
- SEBI - Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators
- Tipping points
Heath and Scrubs
In Europe, heathlands and shrublands have been coevolving for millennia with human societies. They are semi-natural ecosystems traditionally maintained by low to intermediate management or disturbance events and they represent a distinctive set of European habitats for their biodiversity and their aesthetic and cultural values (Wessel et al., 2004; Quétier et al., 2007 in Vandewalle et al., 2010). In the Iberian Peninsula they are particularly rich in plant species diversity and they hold a large number of endemic plants. Also birds, reptilians and ampibians are well represented (Wessel et al. 2004).
The majority of shrublands require management to conserver them. But often they lack appropriate conservation measures. In addition they are threatened by polluting aerial deposition, overgrazing, excessive wildfires, or size reduction or fragmentation; Climate change might make these ecosystems even more vulnearble. (Wessel et al. 2004).
From the 231 target habitats types of the Habitats Directive 36 belong to the group of heathlands and scrublands, which includes temperate and sclerophyllous, coastal and inland habitat types. The highest number (25) of these habitat types can be found in the Mediterranean Biogeographical Region, followed by the continental Biogeographical Region with 23.
While within the Alpine Region the conservation status of these group of habitats types is for 36% in the best category (favourable conservation status), none of the habitat types in the Atlantic or the Pannonian Biogeographical Region have been assessed as favourable. Also the Mediterranean Biogeographical Region has with only 8% of the habitats types of this group in the best category, while for 52 % the conservation status is unknown.