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Knowledge and Tools for the Trans-European Nature Network: Designing a Resilient and Connected System of Protected Areas in Europe
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Edited by Néstor Fernández and Piero Visconti

The European Union's 2030 Biodiversity Strategy aims to place species and ecosystems on the recovery path by 2030, preserving and restoring Europe's natural capital, and positioning Europe at the forefront of global biodiversity conservation efforts. These commitments urgently respond to the decline of species and the deterioration of nature. A key component of this Strategy is the development of a Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) that protects ecosystems and their contributions to people against threats from climate change and unsustainable land use. The TEN-N is expected to increase the resilience of natural ecosystems, supported by the existing Natura 2000 Network and other nationally designated protected areas. New designations are expected to contribute to achieving protected land, including inland waters, comprising 30% of the territory, increasing the network's ecological representativeness, and incorporating novel strictly protected and ecological connectivity areas. Implementing the TEN-N faces major challenges in defining criteria and planning tools to maximize the network's representativeness and connectivity at the European level.

The TEN-N should create a functionally connected system, assimilating biodiversity conservation goals with nature-based solutions for societal needs, such as green and blue infrastructure. In the face of global change, the Network should also ensure that species communities can adapt, providing sufficient and connected spaces for nature. Achieving these goals requires innovative planning approaches, integrating models of biodiversity and ecosystem change with conservation prioritization tools and participatory processes. The TEN-N must be based on SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) conservation and management objectives and monitoring methods.

NaturaConnect aims to support the development of the TEN-N through transdisciplinary research. Participatory processes are central to its activities, involving stakeholder engagement at regional, national, and international levels. Predictive biodiversity and ecosystem service models form the backbone for analyzing protected area representativeness and connectivity, taking into account multiple prioritization criteria and the diverse perspectives and needs of nature conservation. NaturaConnect seeks to develop data, analytical tools, and knowledge to support solutions —namely, the blueprint for TEN-N configurations. It also analyses best practices for governance of area-based conservation measures and potential funding mechanisms to provide the European Commission and Member States with a comprehensive set of planning and implementation support tools.

Only publications directly resulting from the NaturaConnect project are accepted in this collection.

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