An integrated Trans-European nature network design.

Work package lead: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Work package co-lead: Helsingin Yliopisto (UH)

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis:

Martin Jung, IIASA

Work package Lead and Research Scholar

Louise O’Connor, IIASA

Research Scholar, Task Lead

Jutta Beher, IIASA

Research Scholar

Piero Visconti, IIASA

Principal Investigator

Work package co-lead and task leads:

Heini Kujala, University of Helsinki

WP Co-Lead and Task Lead

Moreno Di Marco, Sapienza University

Task Lead

Michaela Di Pacifici, Sapienza University

Task Lead

Marta Cimatti

Task Contributor

Chiara Dragonetti

Task Contributor

Daniele Baisero, KBA Partnership

Task Contributor

Andy Plumptre, KBA Partnership

Task Contributor

Alessandra D’Alessio, Sapienza University

Task Contributor

Thiago Cavalcante, University of Helsinki

Task Contributor

Marco Davoli, Sapienza University

Task Contributor


Land use and conservation planning inherently requires resolving of conflicting needs. To best support decision-making, plans for Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) need to be efficient, cost-effective and transparent to allow comparison of alternative options that meet the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 targets.

The purpose of the work package:

Using systematic conservation planning approaches, work package 7 will integrate the various data sources generated within the project into a series of blueprints of a coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N). The result will be a series of priority maps spatially identifying the targets of European Biodiversity strategy in different variants; with each of those variants reflecting different plausible options . Based on these maps, a set of “best-bet” areas will be identified and evaluated in terms of their performance and coherence.

What are we addressing in this work package?

We will provide spatial variants of how the protection and restoration targets of the EU Biodiversity strategy could be implemented. Through different variants of TEN-N configurations we will showcase how different values, including biodiversity features (species, habitats, Nature Contributions to People), costs and land use constraints can be represented, all while ensuring that the network is Comprehensive, Adequate, Resilient and Effective.

We envisage the results to be highly valuable for European policy makers and European Member States, providing a blueprint of a possible TEN-N for Europe that takes into account cross-sectoral and transboundary benefits and visions. The identified “nodes” of the TEN-N will furthermore be interrogated by other work packages in NaturaConnect, for example to investigate the potential for corridors (work package 6) and the consequences of protected areas in terms of future land use (work package 5).

Our solutions:

→ Defining favourable reference targets for biodiversity

The current European protected area network is extensive and covers a wide range of species and habitats. Yet, coverage does not necessarily equate with adequacy of protection and for many species it is unknown what their effective or desired level of protection should be. We will develop biogeographic region explicit targets for biodiversity (species and habitats) based on the Favourable reference value (FRV) concept. These targets will help to determine how much and where biodiversity should be conserved to ensure that the TEN-N is adequate.

→ Stress testing for a climate resilient TEN-N

For protected areas to be efficient and resilient, they need to be designed in a way that they conserve current and future biodiversity. Because of climate change it is expected that most of the current conditions within and between protected area network will largely disappear by the end of the century. We will ensure that the TEN-N, both in terms of future expansion and consideration of corridors between existing sites, is resilient to these anticipated changes using spatial optimization techniques while accounting for the modification of species climatic niche.

→ Integrated spatial planning of the network

The NaturaConnect project will collate and create a range of different qualitative and quantitative data products as well as stakeholder preferences and visions. In this work package we will integrate all these data in a comprehensive and encompassing planning process to identify priorities for strict and conventional protection, and restoration opportunities, that benefit biodiversity in all its facets and best complement the existing protected area network. Given different visions, costs and constraints, we will construct a range of different variants of the TEN-N and evaluate “safe-bet” areas across variants that are Comprehensive, Adequate and Resilient.

→ Performance evaluation of the TEN-N

Protected areas fulfil a range of different functions and can shift depending on what and where certain biodiversity features (species, habitats, Nature Contributions to people) should be conserved. We will propose a series of robust indicators that allow an evaluation of the sufficiency and performance of the proposed TEN-N variants in their various configurations, thus enabling scientists and stakeholders to interrogate them in terms of their benefit. Particular attention will be focussed on the effects future protection and restoration efforts will have on the wider networks and the land in between according to different plausible land use futures. Furthermore, we will conduct a scoping of the identified nodes in terms of their coverage of Key Biodiversity Areas with global biodiversity relevance, which will help to position the TEN-N within the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). All indicators will be presented on an interactive platform allowing users to directly evaluate the benefit of different plausible TEN-N realizations.

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