EU states urged to share data on natural capital

There is already a lot of data on natural capital that could be used to protect biodiversity in Europe but some of it is withheld by member states because it is deemed sensitive, environment commissioner Janez Potočnik has said.

Mr Potočnik was presenting some of the conclusions from the work conducted so far by the European Commission, the European Environment Agency and national experts on the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services (MAES).

He told a conference on Thursday that access to data on farm holdings, land use and crop cover is often restricted. “Only one or two member states, including… Slovenia, make this information available outside the ministry of agriculture,” he said.

   “We recognise that national databases do contain potentially sensitive information but it must be possible to... allow the other data to be made available”.

The EU’s biodiversity strategy from 2011 requires member states to complete the mapping and assessment work by the end of this year. This is one of the key steps towards the establishments of ecosystem accounting and reporting systems.

 Mr Potočnik said that more resources will have to be allocated to MAES. “We are a long way from having a coherent and comprehensive information system of a scale and quality that would allow the optimum delivery of our… strategy,” he told the conference.

   “When you take into account the many billions of euros in ecosystem services that we receive from nature each year… the amount that we spend to understand the status of natural capital… is woefully small,” the commissioner added.

Excerpted from ENDS Europe Daily