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Community Reportings on "Nature" Directives


The European Union's Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC (HD), together with the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC (BD), a codified act based on the previously consolidated 79/409/EEC, forms the cornerstone of European Union's nature conservation policy. In addition to the conservation acts that they must implement, member states commit to regularly evaluate the status and trends of species and "habitat types" targeted by the "nature" directive in order to report to the European Commission.

The Role of MNHN: Development of Scientific Tools and Coordination of Expertise

The French Ministry of Ecology has handed over the reporting reigns to the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), whether it may involve assessing the conservation status of species and habitats of community interest (HD, article 17) or assessing the status and trends of wild bird populations (BD, article 12).

In partnership with many organisations, and calling on a large number of experts, scientists and natural area managers, the MNHN is responsible for:

  • Organizing scientific expertise;
  • Supplying the necessary tools and adapting community methods;
  • Validating results;
  • Compiling and delivering electronic reports to the European Commission;
  • Storing data belonging to these programs;
  • Coordinating ideas on the surveillance program to be implemented.

Assessing the Conservation Status Across Biogeographical Regions (HD, article 17)

In 2013, and for the second time since the implementation of the "Habitats, Fauna, Flora" European directive in 1992, France led a systematic assessment for the European Commission on the conservation status of wild fauna, flora and habitats of community interests on its territory. This check-up was carried out in the framework of frequent reports (every six years), planned for by article 17 of the directive. The new report covers the years 2007-2012 and concerns 312 plant and animal species in France, as well as 132 types of habitats in both terrestrial and maritime ecosystems. Each habitat and species is assessed in their natural bio-geographical region. In France, 1,009 assessments were performed in four terrestrial regions and two maritime regions.

Principles of Evaluating the Conservation Status

The Habitats Directive aims to achieve and maintain a favorable conservation status for all habitat types and for species of community interest. It can be described as a situation or a type of prosperous habitat or species (qualitative and quantitative aspects) where both, the perspectives regarding the vitality of species populations or habitat structures and the intrinsic ecological elements of ecosystems or geoclimatic conditions for the habitats are favorable. It is important to note that the conservation status assessment includes not only diagnostic elements based on the present state, but that it also considers future prospects and evolution in their state, based on foreseeable and assessable threats. The assessment is carried out in Europe according to a common protocol; the standards and methods used to calculate the conservation status are presented below.

<strong>Figure 1: Rank factors and methods for assessing the conservation status of species and habitats of community interest </strong> 	Figure 1: Rank factors and methods for assessing the conservation status of species and habitats of community interest

The method is consistent throughout all the member states of the European Union and uses four categories to rank conservation status: favorable (FV), unfavorable inadequate (U1), unfavorable bad (U2), unknown (XX)

<stong>Figure 2: Biogeographical regions for assessments of conservation status in France </strong> 	Figure 2: Biogeographical regions for assessments of conservation status in France

This is a biogeographical process assessment information on the conservation status is listed by biogeographical region. There are four terrestrial regions (Atlantic, Alpine, continental and Mediterranean) and two maritime regions (Atlantic and Mediterranean) in France.

Status and Trends Assessment of Wild Bird Populations (BD, article 12)

The French law transposition of article 6 of the Habitats Directive anticipates the monitoring and assessment of the conservation state of habitats and species in the Natura 2000 network (articles R. 414-11 and R. 414-8-5 of the Environmental Code). In order to offer a standardized approach across the entire French territory, the Ministry of Ecology hopes to implement methods to assess the conservation status of habitats in annex I in the heart of the Natura 2000 network.

Since 2008, the Department of Natural Heritage (SPN) has been committed to develop standardised methods that are easy to implement, reproducible and accessible to all operators in the Natura 2000 network. These methods are elaborated in the framework of partnerships with managers and scientific organisations (ONG, CBN-FCBN, Universities, relay points...). The goal is to dispose of a factual frame in order to be able to diagnose the status of a Natura 2000 site, understand its evolution and participate in decision-making concerning the management in place and be able to then provide scientific elements to feed the thought process of the steering committee (COPIL).

These methods are available on the following web page:

Conservation status assessment documentation

Status and Trends Assessment of Wild Bird Populations (BD, article 12)

The Birds Directive applies to all wild bird species of natural occurrence in European territories of EU member states. As specified in article 12, members states must supply the European Commission, every three years since 1981, with a synthesised report on the national dispositions (legal transpositions, technical implementation) made to comply, notably with a section on the designation of Special Protection Zones. In 2008, a new system of bird reporting was created in order to improve in quality, all while synchronising the reporting done in the framework of article 17 of the Directives Habitat, completed every six years. This required modifications to be done on the interval period of 'bird' reporting, but most importantly, this required additions to be made to the existing reporting - a description of actions by enterprises - notably the addition of a considerable section on the results using the furnished information on the status and trends of bird populations.

Because of its surface area and geographical position (four biogeographical domains and several migration routes), France is one of the EU member states with the most species to be studied. In the framework of reporting, 327 taxons needed to be assessed, 295 of which are niche taxons.

The methodology imposed by the Commission was to hold back all wild life for breeding species, including, if appropriate, small or recently installed species, and excluding occasional breeding species.

The reporting format dedicated to species is comprised of eight sections: 1) information on the species, 2) population size, 3) population trends, 4) map on breeding birds dispersion and dispersion size, 5) dispersion trends during mating periods, 6) progress made on international Action Plans for species, 7) main pressures and threats, 8) Special Protective Zones (SPZ) and conservation measures.

Results Presentation of the Latest Reports

Assessing the Conservation Status Across Biogeographical Regions (HD, article 17)

For this second exercise (period 2007-2012), more than half of the species assessments present a conservation status "unfavourable" (31% improper and 24% bad), 27% are "favourable" and 18% "unknown". This last category essentially concerns Marine species, lichens and some invertebrates.

Three quarters of habitat assessments are unfavourable (38% are "unfavourable improper" and 35% are "unfavourable bad") which remains substantially similar to he precedent exercise of 2007. 22% are favourable and only 5% of the assessments are "unknown".

Figure 3: Results of the assessments of species per biogeographical region

As observed in 2007, Atlantic and Continental biogeographical regions present the most unfavourable results for the conservation status of Fauna and Flora (more than 70% are unfavourable improper and bad). These regions are also the most affected at the European level. In contrast, the Alpine Flora and the Mediterranean Fauna are in a good conservation status. The lack of data and knowledge explains the high proportion of unknowns assessments for Marine species (Marine Mediterranean : 67% ; Marine Atlantic: 53%).

Figure 4: Results of the assessments of habitats per biogeographical region

With more than 38% of habitats listed in poor status and the lowest rate of habitat in a favourable status (7%), the Atlantic region is the most worrisome French biogeographic region. The Mediterranean region presents a very contrasting situation, with 47% of "unfavourable bad" and 24% of favourable assessments. The Continental region is also strongly affected with more than 75% of its habitats of Community interest in unfavorable conservation status (improper and bad). However, the Alpine region (Alps and Pyrenees) presents the highest proportion of favourable assessments in our country (42%).

Across all regions, coastal and marine habitats, dunes, bogs and fens as well as freshwater habitats are the most degraded. Grasslands are also among the least well-preserved habitats, with only 13% of favourable assessments. The impacts of certain agricultural practices, such as abandonment or intensification, and those caused by urban development appear as the main factors of this degradation. The vegetation of rock systems (scree, cliffs) and sclerophyllous shrubs are habitats types which are mostly in a favourable conservation status.

Status and Trends Assessment of Wild Bird Populations (BD, article 12)

Présentation des résultats du rapportage « Oiseaux » 2008-2012.

Le rapportage national au titre de la Directive Oiseaux pour la période 2008-2012 a mobilisé plus de 100 scientifiques et experts français. Les projets en cours ont été mis à contribution, notamment l'atlas des oiseaux de France métropolitaine 2009-2012, outil essentiel de connaissance des aires de répartition et de leur évolution, mais aussi source de données pour l'estimation des tailles de population. Nous donnons ci-dessous quelques résultats généraux concernant notre avifaune nicheuse :

Toutes espèces confondues, la population d'oiseaux nicheurs a pu être estimée entre 66 et 124 millions de couples. Les résultats des tendances d'effectifs à long terme donnent 89 taxons nicheurs en déclin (30%), 97 en augmentation (33%), 41 stables (14%), 14 fluctuants (5%) et 53 de tendance inconnue (18%). Les tendances d'effectifs et les tendances de distribution sont corrélées positivement.

Les tendances à long terme mettent en évidence un fort taux de déclin parmi les espèces relativement répandues, alors que les espèces plutôt localisées se portent globalement mieux. Alors que des augmentations conséquentes sont signalées chez certaines espèces méridionales, le sort d'espèces plus nordiques semble dans certains cas préoccupant. L'analyse des tendances d'effectifs selon la stratégie migratoire confirme la mauvaise situation des migrateurs longue distance en particulier sur le long terme. Quatre classes (quartiles de répartition) ont été définies sur un gradient allant des espèces les plus localisées jusqu'aux espèces les plus répandues.

Ciconia ciconia © INPN -Jean-Philippe Siblet

La figure 5 montre bien la rupture entre les espèces à répartition très locale dont les effectifs sont très variables (voir en particulier le 1er quartile) et les espèces pour lesquelles la répartition et les effectifs sont linéairement corrélés (voir les quartiles 3 et 4). Trois groupes d'espèces ont été distingués sur le graphe : A [bleu] : un groupe d'espèces coloniales à forts effectifs (>5000 c.) mais extrêmement localisées ; B [orange] : un groupe d'espèces à effectifs très réduits (<25 c.) ; C [vert] : un groupe d'espèces à la fois très bien réparties et très abondantes, comprenant les 10 espèces les plus abondantes (> 4 millions de c.) qui contribueraient à elles seules à 60 % du total des effectifs.

Fig. 5.- Relation entre l'aire de répartition en carrés de 10 km de côté et la taille de la population des espèces nicheuses exprimée en nombre de couples

Les données collectées dans le cadre du rapportage sont toutes associées à un indice de qualité (médiocre, moyenne et bonne). La répartition des classes de qualité de la tendance à court terme des effectifs en fonction de la rareté géographique met en évidence une relation en forme de cloche (figure 6). Les espèces très localisées présentent des estimations de tendance de bonne qualité. De même, dans une moindre mesure, les espèces très répandues qui montrent aussi très peu d'estimations de mauvaise qualité. Les espèces en situation intermédiaires, assez localisées à assez répandues, présentent des estimations de moins bonne qualité.

Fig. 6.- Qualité des estimations de tendance à court terme des effectifs selon le caractère répandu ou localisé des espèces (quartiles d'étendue de leur aire de répartition)

L'année 2015 a vu la création du Comité d'Estimation des Populations d'Oiseaux (CEPO), suite à une initiative de l'ums PatriNat. Ce comité a pour mission d'assurer une estimation régulière des effectifs d'oiseaux à partir des dispositifs de surveillance existants ainsi que de promouvoir des développements méthodologiques. Les partenaires associés ont tous contribué au premier rapportage de l'article 12 de la Directive Oiseaux, il s'agit (par ordre alphabétique) de : la Fédération Nationale des Chasseurs (FNC), le Groupement d'Intérêt Scientifique Oiseaux Marins (GISOM), la Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), le Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN/CRBPO et SPN), Oiseaux Migrateurs du Paléarctique Occidental (OMPO), l'Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS), l'Office National des Forêts (ONF) et la Société d'Études Ornithologiques de France (SEOF).

Les résultats nationaux du rapportage ont été utilisés dans le cadre de l'actualisation de la liste rouge des oiseaux nicheurs de France métropolitaine (projet en cours, publication prévue en 2016).

Les résultats du rapportage synthétisés au niveau européen ont permis en 2015 l'actualisation de la liste rouge européenne des oiseaux : 13% des 533 espèces européennes sont menacées selon BirdLife International BirdLife International ; dans l'Europe des 27, ce pourcentage est de 18% pour un total de 451 espèces.