The Doñana Biological Station – CSIC participates in a new Horizon Europe project, Natura Connect, which aims creating an ecologically representative, resilient and well-connected network of conserved areas across Europe. The Doñana Natural Space of Doñana and its surroundings will be one of the six case studies within this iniatitive.
The NaturaConnect project was created to help the European Union and its Member States to develop a Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N). In October 2020, European Union Member States committed to legally protect a minimum of 30% of the European Union's land and sea area, which is expected to contribute to the European Green Deal's goal of preserving and restoring Europe's natural capital. One of the cornerstones of this strategy is to develop a connected system through ecological corridors with natural and semi-natural areas, the Trans-European Nature Network, which, if appropriately managed, can deliver a wide range of benefits for biodiversity and people.
This new project brings together experts from 22 partner institutions and 15 countries and is jointly coordinated by the the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). Working closely with protected area managers, conservation organizations, and other stakeholders, the project team will conduct research, engagement, and dissemination activities across Europe to identify the best areas to protect and connect to preserve biodiversity and adapt to climate change. he team will also work with national and sub-national nature conservation agencies and other stakeholders within six case studies to test and refine their approaches and inform local ongoing conservation efforts.
Doñana will be an important case study
One of this case study is Doñana. "This region is an important case study for NaturaConnect because it is an iconic and key conservation area in Europe, that is also quite complex and which management involves many stakeholders with different interests", explained Eloy Revilla, Director of the Doñana Biological Station – CSIC. In Doñana, Natura Connect will improve the connectivity of the region's protected areas in the region and their resilience. The team at the Doñana Biological Station will also develop models that will cover the distribution, movement and interactions of some key species in the area and will work to engage stakeholders in this task.
"The NaturaProject itself aims at supporting the design of the Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) in a way that makes it resilient to climate change and other challenges. That is meant to apply to Doñana and to the wider Spanish network of protected areas" said Laetitia Navarro, also a researcher at the Doñana Biological Station. "More specifically for Doñana, the idea is that by improving the connectivity of the region's protected areas, we will also improve their ecological integrity, and the resilience of the fauna and flora of the region to the various challenges that global change will bring."
NaturaConnect, clave en la Nueva Estrategia de Biodiversidad de la UE
By working with key decision makers, policy experts, and other important stakeholders, NaturaConnect will create a strategic plan for realizing an ecologically representative, well-connected network of conserved areas that contribute to achieving the objectives of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2030," notes project coordinator Piero Visconti, who leads the Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation Research Group in the IIASA Biodiversity and Natural Resources Programme.
Deputy coordinator from iDiv and MLU, Néstor Fernández, adds "designing a truly coherent nature protection network is a major scientific challenge since it requires not only predicting where and how biodiversity may be threatened in the future but also finding ways of reconnecting natural areas through highly modified landscapes."
The European Commission counts on the project results to support Member States in identifying priorities for Protected Area designations. "Establishing a truly coherent trans-European nature network with both Natura 2000 and nationally protected areas by 2030 is one the key priorities in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. As a first step towards achieving this ambitious target, EU Member States are invited to submit by the end of 2022 their commitments for additional protected areas and for improving management effectiveness. For supporting this process, we firmly count on the expertise in the NaturaConnect project!" notes Frank Vassen Policy Officer at European Commission Directorate General for the Environment.
We are excited to embark on this project and to develop and create knowledge, tools, and capacity building programs with our partners to support the European Commission, European Union Member States and conservation practitioners in realizing the vision of TEN-N," Visconti concludes.
Estación Biológica de Doñana – CSIC
Tlf.: (+34) 955 14 94 16https://naturaconnect.eu/