Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Assessment


Climate change and biodiversity - the role of the European regions

What are the impacts of climate change on biodiversity? How can biodiversity help in mitigating and adapting to climate change? What are the roles of the European regions to win the battle against climate change?


‘Climate change and biodiversity - the role of the European regions’ gives an overview of the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on biodiversity, highlights key issues such as the major contribution biodiversity can make to adaptation and mitigation and identifies the role that the European regions could play in responding to a changing climate, including some of the key actions that they might undertake in relation to communication, policy and target setting and delivery.

It was drafted by ECNC on request of the Regional Minister for the Environment, Nature and Water, Province of Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands. It was inspired by the results of the first ‘Local Climate Conference’ that took place in Tilburg, the Netherlands, on 12 December 2006.

The report revealed that biodiversity is declining globally and in Europe. The chief impacts of climate change on biodiversity will be from:

  • an increase in temperature;
  • decreased availability of water (both in terms of rain and in the water tables);
  • an increase in storm events and fire;
  • sea level rise.

Species ranges will change and some will become extinct (e.g. pushed to the top of mountains with nowhere to go), habitats will change in composition, dry out, become flooded and disappear, lose key species (and their value to nature conservation) and be impacted on by pest and alien species; increased storminess and fire will have similar ‘unbalancing’ effects on natural ecosystems. In order to combat all these changes, a more flexible approach towards biodiversity development and targets - taking into account the dynamics of a more rapidly changing nature - has to be adopted.

The key areas for investment in biodiversity in relation to climate change are:

  • Connecting habitats – ecological networks in rural areas and green infrastructure in urban areas;
  • Increasing the size of existing habitats – the bigger they are the better they function;
  • Creating new habitat – especially wetlands.

There is also a need for information exchange and cooperation between the research networks, national and regional authorities and stakeholder networks dealing with climate change on one side and those dealing with biodiversity and ecological networks on the other. Regions have a key role in making this happen and in providing leadership in order to drive forward society’s response to climate change.


This project was funded by the Province of Noord-Brabant (the Netherlands).