EuropaBON (Europa Biodiversity Observation Network: integrating data streams to support policy), a new project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme has officially been approved by the EU Commission on 1 October 2020.
European countries and regions have invested substantial amounts of resources into biodiversity conservation and knowledge. This reflects, for example, in a disproportionate availability of biodiversity data as compared to most other regions of the world. However, despite these large conservation spendings, the limited availability at the EU-scale of harmonised, long-term, spatially explicit and regularly updated biodiversity data continues to constrain the evaluation of effectiveness of biodiversity-relevant policies.
As observations are key to understand the drivers of biodiversity loss and the impacts on ecosystem services and ultimately on people, the challenge is therefore to better inform EU policies through enhancing data streams for the integration and regular updating of information on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
EuropaBON, a project jointly led by the German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), has adopted this challenge by designing a European Biodiversity Observation Network.
“This is a huge responsibility, as the future of biodiversity conservation in Europe will largely depend on this project. It is also an opportunity to operationalize at the European level the scientific advances on biodiversity monitoring that the GEO BON community has been making over the last decade. I am confident that with the high-level and complementary expertise of our consortium, we are well-prepared to take on this challenge”, says Prof Henrique Pereira, Head of the Biodiversity Conservation Research Group at iDiv, and coordinator of EuropaBON.
Together with 15 partners from nine European Union countries and the UK, the 3-year project builds on stakeholder engagement and knowledge exchange to identify user and policy needs for biodiversity monitoring and investigates the feasibility of setting up a centre to coordinate monitoring activities across Europe.
Specifically, EuropaBON will assess current monitoring efforts to identify gaps, data and workflow bottlenecks, and analyse cost-effectiveness of different monitoring schemes. The results of this assessment will be used to inform the design of improved monitoring schemes able to integrate in-situ and remote sensing data through models, and using novel technologies, to deliver more complete and less biased biodiversity information with multiple benefits to users and society.
EuropaBON adopts the GEO BON framework for the development of coordinated Biodiversity Observation Networks (BONs), by consulting with and engaging stakeholders in all stages of the project and by using state of the art models to produce Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and Essential Ecosystem Service Variables (EESVs).
A set of EuropaBON showcases will demonstrate how the EBVs and EESVs provide timely and relevant data for EU member states and regions, including policy-relevant indicators to assess progress in biodiversity targets, short-term biodiversity and ecosystem services forecasts, and scenarios that support IPBES and other assessments.
The first general assembly- and Kick-off meeting will take place (partially/fully virtually) in Leipzig, Germany on 1-3 December 2020. This will also be the official start date of the project.