Management of European (Sub)Tropical Biodiversity In support of sustainable development: Policy recommendations and priorities for research

NetBiome-CSA is a European funded project that aims to extend and strengthen research partnerships and cooperation for the smart and sustainable management of tropical and subtropical biodiversity in Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). The NetBiome Network, with the participation of Ecologic Institute, has developed a Strategic Document that compiles a series of policy and research priorities for improving knowledge about biodiversity and the practice of biodiversity governance in the EU ORs and OCTs. The priorities emerged from participatory processes within NetBiome-CSA. The document is available for download.

The 34 European Overseas entities, including nine Outermost Regions (ORs) and 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), are among the most intriguing and important zones in the world for biodiversity conservation. The rich biodiversity of the European Overseas Territories has nurtured generations of local populations and communities, and is a pillar for their future economic development and crucial for their long term prosperity and sustainability. However, this exceptional biodiversity in ORs and OCTs is faced with severe threats as a result of unregulated human activities and the negative impact of climate change.

In the framework of the NetBiome-CSA project, a co-design process was developed and implemented in order to mobilize panels of experts and build bridges across geographic regions. Adopting a bottom-up approach and going beyond the expertise of the scientific community and policy makers, specific attention was given to ensure that the perceptions of civil society and private economic stakeholders, which are key players in the field of biodiversity management, were taken into account.

This exercise enabled the identification of four major research topics on biodiversity management:

  • Improve tools for effective participation in biodiversity management, aiming to facilitate the co-design of management and the development of scenarios and solutions using the best available scientific and local knowledge whilst managing various uncertainty factors;
  • Predict effects of climate change on natural resource uses, carrying out broadscale investigations that go beyond studies directed at specific regions or specific natural resources and develop regional strategies;
  • Increase the consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in environmental assessment and valuation methods, taking them into account when designing legislation and undertaking infrastructure design and spatial planning processes;
  • Map ecological limits to extractive activities, examining linkages across habitats and species to guide decisions on limits to activities.

Addressing these Research Priorities in a collaborative approach presents significant advantages, allowing scientific experimentation at various hierarchical scales (island, archipelago, oceanic region) thereby providing a better generalization of research results to give fundamental insights into mechanisms shaping biodiversity and ecosystem processes.

By adopting a transregional and collaborative approach to these challenges, new knowledge is expected to be acquired and used in the implementation of a set of Policy Recommendations identified in the course of the NetBiome-CSA consultation process:

  • Adopt a more coherent approach to spatial planning, accounting for ecological and societal considerations, incorporating cross-sectorial and interdisciplinary cooperation to balance long-term biodiversity related issues and short-term social and economic dynamics and make decisions in a context of uncertainty;
  • Adapt international legislation to national/regional context, to better address the challenges faced by European Overseas regions and territories with regard to biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change;
  • Promote more efficient and sustainable usage of natural resources, enhancing local genetic diversity while meeting society’s needs and demands and facilitating a circular economy approach;
  • Put ecosystem-based management principles into practice, adopting management approaches that take into consideration the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including human activities;
  • Establish Biodiversity Indicators specific for European Overseas Regions and Territories, since existing biodiversity indicators based on European policy models and funding strategies designed for continental contexts and needs, are very often inadequate, insufficient or too general.

These Policy Recommendations and Research Priorities can effectively address the common challenges identified that, if not tackled, would endanger biodiversity in the European ORs and OCTs and jeopardise their future. 

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