The recent research project WildE in which CREAF is involved focuses on making rewilding in Europe climate-smart. It is therefore proposed that this action should stimulate the natural capacity of ecosystems to adapt to climate change and support the consequent loss of biodiversity. Rewilding is a nature-based solution that envisages, for example, eradicating invasive species, creating corridors to connect nature reserves, or generating crossing points for wildlife, among many other actions. WildE’s approach is innovative and seeks to generate climate benefits while addressing other socio-environmental needs.
WildE involves a multidisciplinary team of European experts to develop a research and innovation programme that addresses the climate-biodiversity nexus, in close association with the socio-economic dimension of large-scale restoration. The team also plans to project future scenarios of changing soil uses due to climate change, to assess the potential for rewilding in Europe.
CREAF researchers Lluís Brotons and Josep Maria Espelta are part of the team of this ambitious project, which is coordinated by Arndt Hampe from INRAE and funded by Horizon2020. Lluís Brotons, also a researcher at CSIC, assures that “with WildE we want to reinforce the importance of natural processes as a cheap and effective management tool to recover the functionality of ecosystems”. In a complementary way, Josep Maria Espelta explains that the ultimate goal is to develop tangible and easily accessible proposals to support management: “we will develop state-of-the-art projections on land use and future climate scenarios and, at the same time, we will assess how smart reforestation strategies can contribute to achieving the EU’s climate neutrality and biodiversity protection targets for 2050″.
“We want to reinforce the importance of natural processes as a cheap and effective management tool to recover ecosystems’ functionality”LLUÍS BROTONS, researcher at CREAF who takes part in the WildE project.
Project coordinator, INRAE research director Arndt Hampe, says that “the holistic approach to ecosystem and landscape restoration takes into account climate, economic and social challenges to develop economically viable nature-based solutions”.
Addressing the climate-biodiversity nexus
The specific objectives of WildE are generating comprehensive comparative data on trends and outcomes of renaturalisation in Europe; to quantify the net social, economic and environmental benefits, synergies and trade-offs related to renaturalisation and versus other land uses; developing advanced projections of future land use and climate scenarios in Europe, and to develop management and support guidelines that enable decision-makers, conservation management and the private sector to jointly design strategies to meet EU objectives.
“We will assess how smart reforestation strategies can contribute to achieving the EU’s climate neutrality and biodiversity protection goals by 2050”JOSEP M. ESPELTA, researcher at CREAF and participant in the WildE project.
The context for WildE is the European Union’s target to reduce net carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 and to become climate neutral by 2050, as expressed in the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030. This can only be achieved if carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems is increased and, in turn, other co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and socio-economic and cultural safeguarding are promoted. Intergovernmental organisations such as the IPCC and IPBES have emphasised the great potential of ecosystem restoration by applying nature-based solutions to address this challenge.