It has been exactly one year since the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 was announced on May 20, 2020. For this reason, we would like to take a closer look at what has been already done and what still lies ahead. This ambitious strategy aims at directing the European Union’s society on the path of nature regeneration in the next decade, in line with the guiding principles of the European Green Deal (EGD). Applying the strategy requires close cooperation not only between politicians and decision makers but also between researchers, business, local communities, municipalities – all at local, regional, national, European and global levels. The actions taken under the Strategy will also be applied in the area of research and innovation (R&I), what will be an essential subject of the event.
In order to support the effective management of the Strategy implementation process, in October 2020 the European Commission established the Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, operating within the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity carries out its mission by building and updating an information database, analysing data and making it widely available to all stakeholders. At the same time, the Centre provides a space for dialogue on the EU’s policy of protecting and revitalizing ecosystems.
Also in October 2020 the JRC released the EU Ecosystem Assesment providing a knowledge foundation for evaluation of the previous EU targets regarding biodiversity protection by 2020, and a baseline for the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030. As a supplement to this document, in May 2021 the JRC will launch a summary for policymakers and broader audience with key messages on the state of ecosystems in the EU and with implications for ecosystem restoration.
The tasks specified in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 are in line with the objectives of the Horizon Europe (HE), the next EU framework programme for research and innovation. Specifically, worth noting is one of four key strategic orientations for greater impact, which has been embedded with the first HE Strategic Plan, i.e. restoring Europe’s ecosystems and biodiversity, and managing sustainably natural resources to ensure food security and a clean and healthy environment. Currently discussed and finalized Work programs of Horizon Europe for its first two years 2021 – 2022 set new research priorities related to the Strategy, especially cluster 6 Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and the environment. One of the crucial instruments implementing these objectives will be European Partnerships between the Member States and the European Commission.
It is important to emphisese that simultanously under the European Green Deal and with strong relation to the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 the Commission has been developing a new EU Forest Strategy that aims to coordinate and ensure coherence of forest-related policies as well as strenghten synergies with miscellenious actors and sectors having impact on forest management. The current framework of the new forest strategy will be a result of recentrly completed public consultations engaging EU citizens, managing and governmental bodies as well as representatives of different sectors, including academia. It is expected that the new strategy will cover the whole forest cycle and numerous services providing by forests, and finally – will stimulate a consistent, holistic vision of ecosystems protection and sustainable forest management.
According to a JRC’s study climate change has made European forest ecosystems more sensitive and vulnerable to threats such as pests outbreaks, diseases, extreme weather conditions, draughts and fires. The key priority is to assure healthy and resilient woodland, improve their restoration and to provide sustainable forest management criteria and regulations that need to be respected in use of forest biomass and provision of ecosystem services. What is more, a renewed EU Forest Strategy will also strongly contribute to climate-related goals, in particular biodiversity conservation and circular bioeconomy as well as competitiveness and job creation, in particular in abandoned rural areas.
All those goals – well embeded within both strategies – cannot be achieved without R&I activities. Results of the EU-funded research and innovation projects will make a greater contribution to the preservation and enhancement of biological diversity, especially in forests and woodland. That can be provided through observation, filling the gaps in the current state of knowledge, science outreach and creating innovative solutions supporting ecosystems protection and restoration.
The debate on new forest strategy can be significanlty important on the Polish ground due to the fact that in Poland there are so many valuable forest complexes, including the unique primeval Białowieża Forest, which was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The event will also be an excellent occasion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the very first nature reserve in this area, latter transformed into the well recognized Białowieża National Park.
The main aim of the online seminar will be to bring together a broad range of actors involved in the biodiversity preservation – on both policy level and academia – to review the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 in general and to empower research and innovation actions in the field of biological diversity. We aim to create the space for dialogue around EU biodiversity conservation and for strengthening cooperation between decision makers, researchers and practitioners. The participants of the event will be given a chance to collect information on how scientists could benefit from Horizon Europe to provide impactful contribution to biodiversity protection. From the Polish perspective, the seminar will be an opportunity to confront both biodiversity and forest strategies’ priorities with the capacities and resources of Polish research organisations, above all – the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The 1st session is to demonstrate and highlight the unique role that is assigned to research and innovation in the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030’s implementation process, including also a mission of Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity. Moreover, a range of foreseen R&I activities under Horizon Europe (mainly under cluster 6) shall be discussed. During this session participants will learn about how the EU priorities, expressed in the Strategy, are reflected in the actions designed under the umbrella of the European Partnership Rescuing biodiversity to safeguard life on Earth to be implemented under the Horizon Europe framework program.
The 2nd session will be focused on forest-related research. This session will bring us a balanced overview of funding opportunities for forest research and best practices developed in the past and ongoing scientific projects. A particular emphasis will be placed on lessons learnt from international research projects, especially those conducted by Polish scientists in collaboration with European researchers and various stakeholders.
The debate on new forest strategy can be significanlty important on the Polish ground due to the fact that in Poland there are so many valuable forest complexes, including the unique primeval Białowieża Forest, which was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The event will also be an excellent occasion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the very first nature reserve in this area, latter transformed into the well recognized Białowieski National Park.
In this context, the event shall be also a great opportunity for networking, mobilising and reinforcing cooperation between European scientists, research organisations and various actors in the field of revitalization of natural ecosystems.