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Towards a taxonomically unbiased EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

Cite this dataset

Mammola, Stefano et al. (2020). Towards a taxonomically unbiased EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 [Dataset]. Dryad.


Through the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and the LIFE projects financial investments, Europe has been the world’s experimental arena for biological conservation. With an estimated budget of €20 billion/year, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 has set an ambitious goal of reaching 30% Protected Areas and ensure no deterioration in conservation trends and status of all protected species. We analyzed LIFE projects focused on animals from 1992 to 2018 and we found that investment towards vertebrates has been six times higher than that for invertebrates (€970 vs €150 million), with birds and mammals alone accounting for 72% species and 75% total budget. Budget allocation is primarily explained by species’ popularity. We propose a roadmap to achieve unbiased conservation targets for 2030 and beyond.


We extracted information on the amount of funding allocated to various species using the LIFE projects database (; accessed between February and May 2020). Note that we focused here on a species-level conservation approach [9], in contrast to other more general conservation measures (such as socio-ecological approaches [15,16] and others [17]) that are only indirectly covered by LIFE projects. We first filtered LIFE projects specifically aimed at species conservation, using the query STRAND = “All”; YEAR = “All”; COUNTRY = “All”; THEMES = “Species”; SUB-THEMES = “Amphibians”; “Birds”; “Fish”; “Invertebrates”; “Mammals”; “Reptiles”. This query resulted in 819 LIFE projects that met the search criteria. A second query focused on THEMES = “Biodiversity issues”; SUB-THEMES = “Ecological coherence”; “Invasive species”; “Urban biodiversity”, which matched an additional 298 LIFE projects. For the latter query, we examined summaries of the LIFE projects and extracted further information only from those specifically aimed at the conservation of animal species (n = 16). For example, projects aimed at generically enhancing biodiversity through measures targeting ecosystems or the impacts of anthropic activities were not considered. In total, we included 835 projects in our analyses—819 with the theme “Species” and 16 with the theme “Biodiversity issues”. To define the amount of funds allocated to each species for each LIFE project, the budget of each project with multiple species was divided equally among the target species.

To obtain a deeper understanding of the factors underlying the observed pattern of conservation measures among species, we further associated traits to each species (risk of extinction, body size, and online popularity). See main text for details.

Usage notes


Tab-delimited .csv file (See R script for the description of relevant columns.)


.R file


European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, Award: 882221

European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, Award: 882221