Portugal holds significant ecological diversity, influenced by the confluence of the Atlantic and Mediterranean climates and distinctive biogeographic conditions. Despite the expansion of marine and terrestrial protected areas in recent decades, the overarching trend continues to be the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services degradation, as in many other EU countries. Numerous priority habitats and species remain in unfavourable conservation status. Reversing the degradation of ecosystems and slowing down the dashing loss of biological diversity will require a multi-sectoral approach involving both the public and the private sectors, especially relevant in Europe’s country with the highest percentage of private forest (over 84% privately owned, 13% community land and less than 3% public).
In Portugal, protected areas (including the Natura 2000 network) cover 22 per cent of the total terrestrial area and 10.7 per cent of the marine area; however, only 0,17% of land and 0,001% of the Exclusive Economic Zone are strictly protected. By 2030, Member States of the European Union are required to expand the network of classified areas, promoting connectivity and ecological restoration, in order to guarantee a legal protection status for 30 per cent of their territory (maritime and terrestrial), of which one-third should have strict protection. The creation of a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) is one of the objectives of the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.
In 2022, the scientific study “Biodiversity 2030 – a new agenda for conservation in the context of climate change”, coordinated by Miguel Bastos Araújo (NaturaConnect partner, UEV) established the goals, targets, and the socio-economic and ecological imperative for Portugal to align with the European Union’s 2030 targets. Building upon this scientific basis, a Working Group / Think Tank will be established, comprising influential decision-makers from public and private organisations, with the primary objective of identifying the challenges, opportunities and needed measures to implement a resilient TEN-N and meet the objectives set by the European Union.