NaturaConnect Newsletter July 2023

Read highlights from NaturaConnect’s 1st year, discover our recent and upcoming events and project outputs, and learn more about how to engage with and contribute to the project here:


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Welcome to NaturaConnect’s first newsletter!As action gathers momentum to put biodiversity back on the path to recovery in the European Union by 2030, the Horizon Europe NaturaConnect project aims to support European countries in their efforts to develop a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N). NaturaConnect is developing novel biodiversity data, scenario projections for biodiversity and ecosystem services, identifying priority areas for new designations and connectivity conservation, and developing spatial planning tools to help implement the TEN-N at sub-national, national, and European decision levels.

This very first newsletter introduces the NaturaConnect project and its recent milestones, highlights upcoming events and project outputs, and invites you to get engaged with the project activities through becoming a member of the NaturaConnect Stakeholder Community.

Want to learn more? Watch our interview with NaturaConnect coordinator, Piero Visconti.

What is NaturaConnect and how can it benefit biodiversity policies and management?


NaturaConnect is a European Union funded Horizon Europe Research and Innovation project that runs until June 2026 and brings together 22 partner organisations across 15 European countries:

As the development and design of the TEN-N moves forward, some important questions need to be addressed. How can we plan an ecologically representative protected and conserved area network for Europe, that is resilient to changes (e.g. in climate and land-use)? How can we ensure that the network is ecologically connected? What are the co-benefits of the TEN-N for society? What financial resources are available to help countries and protected area managers implement the TEN-N?

These and other questions will be addressed by NaturaConnect. Our research encompasses the European level (EU and other European countries and regions, e.g. Switzerland, Norway, the Balkans) and six case studies across Europe where we test how the new knowledge and tools can be implemented (national case studies in Finland, France and Portugal, and sub-national case studies in the Leipzig-Halle peri-urban landscape in Germany, the Doñana region in Spain, and the Danube-Carpathians Transboundary Region).  

Want to learn more? Take  a deep dive into our different areas of work on our website or watch a recent presentation of the project.

Our Advisory Board


NaturaConnect is grateful to be supported by our Advisory Board, which provides strategic advice and makes sure the project is relevant and practically useful to European and national policies:

Want to learn more? Watch our interview with Advisory Board member Frank Vassen from the EU Commission, DG Environment.

Recent project milestones

Initiating Dialogue in Brussels

The NaturaConnect project hosted its first stakeholder engagement event on 28 February 2023, which brought together more than 70 leading EU delegates, government representatives, academics and conservation organisations (see press release). As part of this participatory event, generative dialogues helped to build a collective understanding of conservation planning challenges on the ground.

Participants and project partners exchanged views on existing enablers, barriers, needs and actions for achieving the 30×30 target of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and how the NaturaConnect project can help to design a coherent and resilient TEN-N. The event organiser was the EUROPARC Federation, which leads the overarching stakeholder engagement and capacity-building strategy within the NaturaConnect project.

Want to know more? Check out some reflections on the event here.

Exploring Nature Futures Scenarios for Europe


The NaturaConnect Designing Nature Futures scenarios to support a Trans-European Nature Network in-person workshop in Leipzig, Germany, took place from 8-10 May 2023, and brought together more than 40 participants from the nature conservation community, the land-use planning sector and the NaturaConnect project. Participants explored perspectives and preferences regarding future biodiversity protection in Europe, accounting for multiple values of Nature. Read more about the outcomes from the event in this web article. A follow-up webinar was held on 4 July 2023 and brought together more than 100 participants for further feedback and input on the draft nature futures scenarios. Did you miss it? Watch the recording and the presentations here.


Want to know more? Read our FAQs on Nature Future Scenarios and how they fit into the work of the NaturaConnect project.

Survey launched to compile information about the implementation of connectivity projects in Europe

A key component of NaturaConnect’s work on connectivity is the development of a methodological framework and guidelines for mapping ecological connectivity in Europe, from sub-national to continental scales. In order to learn from the experiences of past and current efforts, we have launched a survey to collect information on ecological connectivity projects across Europe.

We invite all practitioners and scientists with knowledge of past or current connectivity conservation projects in Europe, namely those who have either taken part in a connectivity project or know of such projects, to please fill in the 10 minutes  survey.

Your input will be used to generate a public database on connectivity projects that compile connectivity criteria, methodologies, and areas of application.
Many thanks for your participation!

Fill in the survey  here

News from our case studies

NaturaConnect encompasses six European case studies, which are informing project implementation and will help to test the analysis tools and methodologies developed under the project. In each newsletter, we will profile recent work from one of our case studies. This time, we are pleased to present recent highlights from France:France case study

Led by Consortium partner Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the France case study focuses on designing and testing a decision framework and support system to guide spatial conservation decisions within the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, with the involvement of the French Biodiversity Office (OFB).

Recent highlights include a formal extension of the project’s partnership with OFB for another three years, to collaborate on modelling future biodiversity distribution, assessing current and future connectivity of protected areas, and future reserve selection in France. This work also involves collaboration with the French Ministry of Ecology and France’s network of protected area managers.

Engagement sessions have taken place to receive feedback on the selected invertebrate groups of interest for the biodiversity modelling component. The results will be validated early next year in a dedicated online and in-person workshop.

Want to learn more about our other case studies? Click here.

Get involved and join our Stakeholder Community!

The NaturaConnect Stakeholder Community brings together a diverse range of people interested in engaging with our project and its activities. We aim to engage with professionals from different private and public sectors, including  scientists, policy makers, civil servants, resource managers, NGOs, the private sector, and public participants involved in protected areas and ecological connectivity planning and management.As a registered member, you will receive dedicated updates from NaturaConnect, and have the opportunity to support us in key project development stages, helping ensure the project is effective and impactful. As a member, depending on your interests and areas of expertise, you could be involved in:

  • Reviewing key project documents
  • Participating in surveys
  • Engaging in targeted interviews
  • Interactive workshops
Additionally, if you wish you can create a public profile in our Stakeholder Community portal, which will detail your expertise and engagement with the project, alongside the public profiles of other members of the Community.

To register as a member of the NaturaConnect Stakeholder Community click here.

More ways to engage with us

NaturaConnect colleagues will be participating in several events this year. We look forward to meeting you there and discussing the NaturaConnect project and collaboration opportunities. If you wish to get in touch about any of the below events, please email us at Conference 2023

3-6 October 2023, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands
This year’s EUROPARC Conference theme is “Tribute to our landscape, where nature and people meet in harmony”, and will celebrate the beauty and diversity of the many natural and cultural European landscapes. NaturaConnect colleagues are attending the conference and will be organising a workshop on effective protected area governance and funding opportunities, as well as holding a NaturaConnect stall at the conference market place.

GEO BON Global Conference: Monitoring Biodiversity for Action

10-13 October 2023, Montreal, Canada
At this year’s GEO BON Global Conference, NaturaConnect project partners will be running a session titled “From Insight to Action: Mapping Europe’s Biodiversity Initiatives and their Path towards 2030 Ambitions”. The session will highlight work undertaken across several Europe-wide projects, including NaturaConnect, on sampling design, open data infrastructures, protected area planning and monitoring, and data intelligence, placing these Europe-wide initiatives within an international context.

7th Conference of the Parties to the Carpathian Convention

11-13 October 2023, Belgrade, Serbia
The Conference of the Parties is the governing body of the Carpathian Convention that gathers every 3 years to shape the implementation of the Convention towards further strengthening the sustainable development of the Carpathian region while ensuring the protection of biological, landscape and cultural diversity. Being part of one case study in the NaturaConnect project (Danube-Carpathian region), the consortium will offer a workshop to the participants around the topic of ecological connectivity and the development of the Trans-European Nature Network blueprint and will engage in the envisaged marketplace presenting the project.

The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (Carpathian Convention) unites seven Carpathian countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine) in a unique partnership, providing a transnational framework for cooperation and multisectoral policy integration. It is an open forum for participation by stakeholders and the public, and a platform for developing and implementing transnational strategies, programs and projects for the protection and sustainable development of the region.

Biogeographical Seminars

Various dates and locations in Europe during 2023
NaturaConnect colleagues will be attending and representing the project at several EU Biogeographical seminars taking place across Europe.  We are looking forward to engaging with EU Member States attending the seminars on how the NaturaConnect project can assist them with their protected areas targets and pledges in the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

Meet the People of NaturaConnect


We are a Consortium of 80+ scientific researchers, policy officers, managers, and communicators. On this occasion we have the pleasure of introducing:

Irene Lucius

Irene is the Regional Conservation Director at WWF Central and Eastern Europe, based in Vienna, Austria. With extensive experience in nature conservation policy across the Danube – Carpathian transboundary region, Irene helps to coordinate the work of work package 1 (Engagement, communications, dissemination and capacity building) and the Danube-Carpathian Transboundary Region case study, including engagement with the Carpathian Convention. For more information on the project’s recent activities with the Carpathian Convention, see here  

Laetitia Navarro

Laetitia is a Researcher at the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC), based in Sevilla, Spain. Part of work package 3 (Baselines and scenarios for European biodiversity), Laetitia is “first and foremost, thrilled to be part of this project because it aligns with the topics, approaches, and research questions that I have been working on or contemplating over the past few years, and it brings these elements very nicely together. The science behind what we will produce is robust and the questions that we address are exciting but what truly captivates me is the recognition of stakeholders’ crucial role in the process and the project’s approach to co-design. With NaturaConnect, we will increase the chances that our research and the knowledge and tools that we generate will have a real and long-lasting impact on society and the way nature is protected in Europe.” She is also part of the Doñana case study, which is exploring work on species dispersal and connectivity done in the Doñana region, and mapping and comparing it with the NaturaConnect TEN-N framework.

Martina Marei Viti
Martina is a doctoral researcher at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). Part of work package 8 (Showcasing the implementation of TEN-N), Martina is contributing to the development of an optimal biodiversity sampling design for the network of protected areas.
“I am excited to pursue my PhD within NaturaConnect because the project represents a game-changer for Europe to protect its biodiversity and meet the European Union Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 targets. From stakeholders’ engagement and support, to the development of high quality scientific outputs, NaturaConnect is definitely a 360 experience for me, that allows me to realistically envision a positive future for nature and people in Europe!”

Resources coming soon

Several project resources are in development and will be shared and made publicly available in the coming months:

Report on the scenario framework for TEN-N

Drawing from the Designing Nature Futures Scenarios workshop and follow-up webinar, this report will document methods for the production of Nature Futures scenarios for Europe, and present the storylines of these scenarios, as well as associated indicators and scenario settings.

Want to know more? Read more about this area of work on our website

Datasets of spatial opportunities and constraints for green infrastructure network design

Spatially explicit datasets on land-use related costs for restoring or creating Green Infrastructure in Europe are currently being developed and will be finalized in the coming months. The datasets will include opportunity costs of nature conservation for different land use systems and will be mapped using proxies such as land rents as well as agricultural and silvicultural productivity.

The datasets, once finalised, will be uploaded onto the NaturaConnect Zenodo community and made publicly available for interested users.

Want to know more? Read more about this area of work on our website

NaturaConnect aims to design and develop a blueprint for a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) of conserved areas that protect at least 30% of land in the European Union, with at least one third of it under strict protection. Our project unites universities and research institutes, government bodies and non-governmental organizations, working together with key stakeholders to create targeted knowledge and tools, and build the capacity needed to support European Union Member States in realizing an ecologically representative, resilient and well-connected network of conserved areas across Europe.






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