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The survival of Europe depends on healthy ecosystems, resilient to climate change. As part of the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, EU countries have committed to legally protect a minimum of 30% of the EU’s land and sea areas; a third of these are to be strictly protected, in other words, totally undisturbed by human activity.

One of the key goals of the Biodiversity Strategy is to develop a Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N), a resilient ecological network of conserved areas across Europe.

This will be done through a new project called NaturaConnect. Specifically, NaturaConnect will address the gaps in the coverage of priority habitats and species across the EU, and bring added coherence to the existing network of the EU’s Natura 2000 sites and other nationally-designated protected areas. If appropriately managed, the Trans-European Nature Network can deliver a wide range of benefits for nature and people.

Kick-off meeting of NaturaConnect in September 2022

BirdLife is thrilled to participate in this project that brings together a comprehensive team of interdisciplinary scientists and NGOs, from 22 institutions in 15 EU countries. “BirdLife will analyse how different EU countries organize themselves to plan land use and explore the best nature management practices to ensure connectivity. We will look at which structures work best for sustainability and at various financing opportunities that exist, both at a public and a private level,” says Barbara Herrero.

Ariel Brunner, Deputy director of BirdLife Europe comments: “The upcoming EU Nature Restoration law, and the commitment to protect 30% of land and sea, is one of the most important challenges the EU has picked up. Making use of the best available science and fostering cooperation across countries, scientific fields and stakeholders is where this exciting new project can make a real contribution.”

NaturaConnect aims to design and develop a blueprint for a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) of conserved areas that protect at least 30% of land in the European Union, with at least one third of it under strict protection. Our project unites universities and research institutes, government bodies and non-governmental organizations, working together with key stakeholders to create targeted knowledge and tools, and build the capacity needed to support European Union Member States in realizing an ecologically representative, resilient and well-connected network of conserved areas across Europe.

NaturaConnect receives funding under the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 101060429.

Cover picture: Paulo Valdivieso

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Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.