Country Profiles

Luxembourg - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Luxembourg, despite its small size and the fact that it is a landlocked country, stands out because of its geological and landscape diversity and species richness. Moreover, 1,300 vascular plants have been recorded in Luxembourg – a figure that compares with those of much larger European countries. Although no endemic species exist in the country, national populations of Black Stork and Grey Shrike are particularly noteworthy compared to populations that exist in larger western European countries and beyond. Also noteworthy is that the population of the Greater Horseshoe Bat in southeastern Luxembourg represents the only population of high reproduction potential in all of central and western Europe.

Yet most ecosystems are now at risk. At present, 7.6% of vascular plants are extinct which is a rate that is clearly higher than in the larger countries. Also alarming is the situation regarding fauna, with 54.8% of mammals, 41.5% of birds, 33% of reptiles, 71.4% of amphibians and 62% of fishes being threatened. Overall, two-thirds of species in Luxembourg are either extinct or in an unfavourable or poor state of conservation. These trends are related to the disappearance or degradation of natural habitats. Yet numbers to illustrate this phenomenon are often missing. As a matter of fact, more than 50% of habitats in Luxembourg cannot be evaluated due to a lack of information on the status of habitat conservation as defined in the EC Habitats Directive. Study of aquatic and rocky habitats is particularly deficient however some information can be drawn, notably from the landscape and habitat monitoring conducted between 1962-1999 on a sample portion of territory (representing 25% of the national territory). This study revealed that 80% of wetlands had been destroyed during this period, and that the surface occupied by dry grasslands and orchards had diminished by 34.9% and 58.5%, respectively. There is also a rarefaction in species and habitats in open areas due mainly to the disappearance of isotopes. Forest habitats and species have a more favourable conservation status than species and biotopes of open areas. Data notably show that the conservation status of Beech Grove and Oak Grove trees common throughout Luxembourg is generally favourable, with the conservation status of the alluvial forest being the only forest habitat considered poor.

Ecosystem services largely benefiting the country include water quality for fishing, agriculture and drinking, soil permeability for rainwater flow, or more subjective and indirect benefits, such as the beauty of landscapes.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The development of Luxembourg from a predominantly rural economy to a stronghold of the European steel industry and, subsequently, a financial centre has been and still is the main driver of biodiversity loss. As a result, Luxembourg is one of the countries most affected by changes in the dynamics of animal populations. In particular, the negative impact of agriculture on the natural environment, as a result of economic evolution, has been witnessed over the last decades, and its impact on landscape connectivity is considerable. For example, the distribution of the Prickly Poppy (coquelicot argémone) was common before the introduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the 1950s, however today this species exists almost exclusively in strips the length of fields and agricultural roads. Their biotopes have even become rare. This threat appears to be even more aggravated at present. Due mainly to intensive agricultural practices, causing losses to habitat surface, rest and nesting areas, food availability, etc., a regression of 3 indicator bird species in meadow and pasture milieus has been witnessed. Rapidly increasing threats to populations of the Meadow Pipit and Yellow Wagtail are particularly worrisome. Other threats to habitats and species conservation include pollution and forest monoculture.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The National Plan for Nature Protection or “Plan national pour la protection de la nature (PNPN)”, adopted in May 2007, covered the 2007-2011 period and contained 2 strategic objectives: to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010, particularly through the maintenance and re-establishment of a favourable conservation status for threatened species and habitats of interest at the national and Community levels; and to preserve and re-establish ecosystem services and processes at the national and landscape levels. The National Plan for Nature Protection contains 7 targets and 41 actions, 15 of which are considered high priority. Examples of actions that have been implemented include the finalization and adoption of 21 of a total of 26 action plans for species and habitats; mapping of 21 biotopes; completion of 13 of a total of 17 management plans for the Natura 2000 network and 70% of management plans of national interest.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Some important achievements toward the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets can be reported. First of all, the network of protected areas in Luxembourg of national or Community interest comprises approximately 20% of the national territory. Forests in Luxembourg cover approximately 90,000 ha, 18,000 ha of which are currently FSC certified and 26,500 ha PEFC certified (with 10,000 ha doubly certified) which brings the total forested surface that is certified to approximately 40%. Furthermore, several programs have been carried out in favor of agricultural and indigenous biodiversity. For instance, the Foundation “Hëllef fir d’Natur” has launched a project to restore and preserve typical regional fruit varieties, through inventorying and documenting information on these indigenous fruit varieties. Moreover, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, in collaboration with partners in the private sector and an organization that reintegrates unemployed persons into the workforce, has initiated a project on the cultivation and commercialization of plants of indigenous genetic origin. This initiative has the added advantage of creating a national market for these products – a market that has long been abandoned by national nurseries. As a result of biodiversity policies, some positive trends have already been reported in various ecosystems. For instance, compensation programs for private agricultural and forest managers, offered through biodiversity agreements concluded with farmers aimed at enhancing extensive management practices in regard to more than 3,200 ha of priority agricultural surfaces, are beginning to show positive effects on biodiversity and a reduction in the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Equally, monitoring of the biochemical quality of watercourses has shown a net improvement since 1977. Luxembourg is also very much involved in the promotion of biodiversity protection, both within and outside its national boundaries. As a matter of fact, the country’s contribution to development assistance in 2008, including its support for relevant NGO programmes, totalled 287.6 million euros (more than 0.95% of the GNP). Microfinancing initiatives in developing countries are encouraged and supported at conceptual and operational levels. Finally, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure launched a vast awareness-raising program in 2007 which included, among other activities, the publication of a brochure, television features, Internet webpages. Nature welcome centres, located near protected areas or sites of ecological importance, highlight the products and services provided by nature. About one hundred educational trails and information points exist in Luxembourg through the involvement of actors at all levels.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation concerns is achieved in various sectors, notably in the field of rural development. The Programme Directeur d’Aménagement du Territoire (2003) serves as the main national planning document, focusing on coordinated action for the sustainable management of national economic growth through the implementation of sectoral plans. The sectoral plan entitled “Plan Sectoriel pour la Préservation des grands ensembles paysagers et forestiers” or simply “Plan Sectoriel Paysages” is the main instrument through which activities for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development and management are implemented at the landscape planning level. The “Plan Sectoriel Paysages” stresses alignment with general national, regional and local planning objectives as well as with the principles of the EC Habitats Directive. It also considers the concepts of the Ecosystem Approach and ecological corridors. Furthermore, the Second National Plan for Sustainable Development was adopted in November 2010, with several measures dedicated exclusively to biodiversity conservation. Finally, EIA is a legal requirement for several activities described in the amended Law on Nature Protection and Natural Resources (2004).

Financial support to biodiversity conservation policies and action plans is provided at the municipal, national and Community levels, through programs such as LIFE+ and Interreg. Furthermore, the Law on Partnerships between the State and Unions of Local Communities (2005) provides a legal framework for decentralized local-level management for nature protection, as well as for co-financing measures for activities undertaken by unions in regard to nature protection.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

In terms of biodiversity monitoring, a cooperation agreement was signed in 2009 between the National Natural History Museum and the Gabriel Lippman Centre for Public Research, followed by the creation of a common research platform on biodiversity and conservation biology which assembles intellectual and material resources. The development of a national monitoring system was finalized in 2009 and operationalized in 2010. Further, a multi-year research programme entitled “Understanding Ecosystems and Biodiversity” was introduced by the National Research Fund, with research focused on biodiversity evaluation and monitoring; ecosystem functioning (including population, climate change, human/nature interaction); management and conservation (restoration ecology, sustainable management of resources, management of human biodiversity interactions, public awareness).