European biodiversity is threatened by simultaneous and drastic alterations in climate and how we use our land. Animal and plant species that are driven out of their historic ranges due to changing conditions may survive if they can find suitable habitats elsewhere. But the ecosystems we are accustomed to – the systems of species and environments that are characteristically ‘European’ – will be pulled apart as individual species go their separate ways.
Society relies on these ecosystems for vital functions such as crop pollination, carbon storage, and groundwater management (we call these functions ‘ecosystem services’). But ecosystem change often results in a loss of vital ecosystem services. In order to protect biodiversity, and hence our own well-being, we must predict when and where the shifts in the distributions of animal and plant species will disrupt European ecosystems and use these predictions as a basis to evaluate methods for avoiding or mitigating this disruption.
One such method currently adopted by European Commission is the concept of Green Infrastructure (GI). GI is a strategically planned network of high quality green spaces, and other environmental features such as hedgerows, fish passes or biodiversity-friendly fields. This locally implemented practice is proposed to provide an effective solution to the large-scale conservation problems driven by climate and land-use change.
EC21C was funded by the ERA-Net BiodivERsA, with the national funders ANR (France), FCT (Portugal), FORMAS (Sweden) and BMBF (Germany), part of the 2011-12 call for research proposals. The project runs from January 2013 to December 2015. More information available here: http://cibioue.uevora.pt/projects/biodiversa-ec21c