Europe has a rich diversity of wild plant and animal species many of which are unique to this continent and exist nowhere else in the world. On this page we provide a general overview about species conservation in Europe.

Species protection and conservation in Europe

European countries agreed to put in place different rules and schemes to protect animal and plant species, the main instruments being the provisions in the Birds Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention.

European species in numbers

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) European biodiversity includes:



of invertebrates



of birds and mammals



of reptiles and amphibians



of vascular plants



of fish

Particularly the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea are rich in species numbers and many species are found only there. The Mediterranean Basin is considered a global biodiversity hotspot. The northern part of Europe is home to fewer species, some still unique to Europe.

To date more than 10,000 species have been assessed on the European Red List, including all vertebrate species (mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and fish), freshwater and terrestrial molluscs, trees and medicinal plants, bryophytes, dragonflies, butterflies, bees, hoverflies, grasshoppers, crickets and bush-crickets, and a selected set of saproxylic beetles and plants (shrubs, crop wild relatives, aquatic plants, and the species that are listed under European or international policy instruments). The link to the website containing detailed reports is available in the Related resources further down this page.

Know more about the species

EUNIS the European Nature Information System

EUNIS provides information on species mentioned in the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the Bern Convention), other international species protection instruments or assessed in the European Red Lists. Go to EUNIS

Explore EUNIS
the European
Nature Information System

Ecological groupings of species

This dashboard shows ecological groupings of species listed in the Annexes of the Habitats Directive. It specifies to which of the defined ecological groups each species belongs.

~ 20,000

species of vascular plants

> 800

species of birds and mammals

> 300

species of reptiles and amphibians

> 100,000

invertebrate species