Threatened species in the EU – looking from a Global perspective

Charts & Graphs

Link to the dashboard

For the last few weeks, I worked on the project related to the threatened species. Somehow, this topic stayed in my mind, when I was looking for inspiration for this assignment. While browsing different UNdata databases (updated on 05.15.2019), I have encountered one gathering the data about Threatened Species. This is an extensive database to be analyzed, therefore I have decided to focus on the threatened species in the European Union (EU). I asked myself, how many threatened species are in different EU countries and how their situation looks from the global perspective. As a background to this analysis, I have looked into historic data describing EU funds environment-related initiatives from the European Environment Agency. The data was analyzed and visualized in Tableau.

Part view

Inspiration and Methodology

UNdata about threatened species

While analyzing the data about threatened species from the UNdata database, I was considering which visualizations can help me to answer my research questions. First of all, I have decided to focus on the years 2015-2019, as these were the dates, where the database was the most complete. In my analysis, I wanted to:

  • see the trends in the World and the EU. I believed that it might help me to understand if the EU follows global trends or there might be a difference (Threatened Species in the World 2015-2019, Threatened Species in the EU 2015-2019 and % Difference in Value – EU compared to the World 2016-2019 charts). I used line graphs to display continuity. Moreover, I have used adjusted colors to be more natural for users eg. green for plants, red for vertebrates and blue for invertebrates (which mostly live in water or fly);
  • see the context (Threatened Species in the EU vs the rest of the World 2015-2019). Circle graph aimed to visualize that threaten species consist of a very tiny percentage of total threatened species in the World. I did not want to use countries names (they are visible only after hovering over each circle. I used blue to represent EU as it is the color of its flag);
  • Understand how many threatened species are in the different EU countries (Threatened Species in EU (2015-2019). I used a map to visualize this data. Additionally, I have decided to use a color scheme, where red means the highest number of threatened species. I separated different species from each other to show that these numbers vary;
  • Understand the global perspective (Countries with Threatened Species 2015-2019 chart). This chart is interactive and allows users to filter the data by 5. I aimed to help users to digest this information. I used a color palette designed for color-blind persons. 

EEA data: Trends in EU-28 environmental protection expenditure

As an inspiration, I have used the chart from the EEA website, as I liked how it presented the changes in the expenditure per year combined with the line marking the % of GDP. To create it, I have used the double Axis function in Tableau. I used the color palette for color-blind persons. I also aimed to visually link Countries with Threatened Species 2015-2019 chart with this financial graph, as they aim to provide context to my analysis.


Trends in EU environmental protection expenditure (EPE) and share of GDP

Figure 1

In 2014, the EU launched the Horizon 2020 program. Within this program, the EU set certain environmental objectives that are to be achieved until 2020. In this graph, it is visible, that as of 2014, the environmental protection expenditure (EPE) has increased. However, interestingly, the share of GDP lowered. For future research, it would be valuable to verify why it happens and whether it is set up in the legislation. Additionally, this is cumulative data. Each EU country implements EU legislation differently and there are various degrees of participation in the Horizon 2020 program.

Countries with threatened species 2015-2019

While looking at this chart, it is interesting to notice, that EU countries are not within the first 15 countries with the biggest number of threatened species and Ecuador, USA and Madagascar are leading this table. It would be interesting to further investigate this issue and check the conditions and implications of listing species as threatened species.

Threatened Species in the World 2015-2019 and Threatened Species in the EU 2015-2019

While comparing these graphs, it is possible to notice, that there is a different proportion of different threatened species between the EU and the rest of the World. For future research, it is suggested to inquire why and if particular countries register the bigger number of Vertebrates.

Threatened Species in the EU 2015-2019

It is interesting to compare this chart with Countries with threatened species 2015-2019 chart. Spain has the highest number of threatened species, which is also visible in the above-mentioned chart. However, its dominance is especially visible in the case of the Invertebrates. In general, in the case of this species, there is a big disproportion between Western/South Europe and Eastern/North Europe.


At my work, I tried to give an overview of the situation of threatened species in the EU while looking from a global perspective. However, I do believe, that a more detailed analysis would be necessary. The dataset chosen by me did was not sufficient to explore this subject in detail. When I tried to look for complementary databases, it appeared that they have a different system of data coding. Therefore, it would not be possible to link them together. While performing more detailed research, I would keep this analysis as a general overview and I would look into other datasets prepared by the organizations directly responsible for recording the threatened species in the world.