How we are using our projects to advance and apply knowledge of landscape restoration

Posted: 12th January 2022

Photo: Sergiy Kantsyrenko

We are delighted to announce that the ELP is funding five new projects to Advance and Apply our Knowledge of Landscape Restoration in Europe. 

These grants are open to ELP and CCI partner organisations, and aim to draw on the expertise and skills that exist across these networks by funding projects that will enhance the ability to deliver landscape-scale restoration in Europe. The grants aim to stimulate research, development and engagement across areas where ELP and CCI partners have expertise and interests. The outputs of the projects will overcome barriers to the effective scaling up of landscape restoration in Europe, supporting the current and next generation of projects. 

The new projects 

Acoustic monitoring of biodiversity 

The Restoration Landscapes funded by the ELP are all working to restore biodiversity and ecological functioning. Understanding and assessing progress in restoring species and communities across landscapes is key to demonstrating projects’ impacts. However, monitoring changes in biodiversity over extended time periods, large geographical areas and in the context of other restoration projects can be difficult. Acoustic surveys are becoming increasingly popular due to their relatively low cost, lack of observer bias and the wide range of taxa they can survey. However, processing acoustic data can be challenging. This project, led by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), will build on an existing platform to enable automated acoustic identification of bats and focal species of birds, bush-crickets and small mammals. This will enhance the ability of acoustic monitoring to measure the effects of restoration on biodiversity, with broader implications for biodiversity monitoring in Europe.

Project scientist Adham Ashton-Butt tests acoustic monitoring equipment at the Polesia project. Photo: Daniel Rosengren

Building a Restoration Partnership Development Toolkit 

The substantial partnerships required to deliver successful landscape restoration are often complex, involving diverse stakeholders with different interests and perspectives. Divergences between partners can form a barrier to restoring landscapes in a way that is socially just and environmentally effective. There is therefore a need for tools that can help diverse partnership stakeholders to develop mutual understanding and transparently deliberate key issues. This project, co-led by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge, will build on previous research on conservation values and uplands management to develop an evidence-informed toolkit for strengthening restoration partnerships. The toolkit will make visible and compare values in a way that allows differences to be understood, deliberated and addressed.

The project team in Georgia are partnering with local sheep farmers in order to help them restore grazing land and protect the gallery forest in the Iori river valley. Photo: SABUKO

Building Capacity in Nature-Based Enterprise Development 

Landscape restoration projects often aim to facilitate the development of nature-based economies in their landscapes. However, organisations leading restoration projects frequently face practical barriers to developing nature-based enterprises. Challenges range from identifying products or industries appropriate to their landscapes, to access to business expertise and appropriate sources of finance. This project, led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), will develop and test structured training on nature-based enterprises for landscape and seascape restoration projects in Europe, and create relevant resources, case studies and investor networking.

The Carpathia project is building wildlife hides such as this one in order to increase ecotourism revenue in the area. Photo: Madalin Mocanu

Assessing Carbon Sequestration and Storage in Dry Grassland Ecosystems 

Dry grasslands are among the most vulnerable ecosystems due to their widespread, rapid and ongoing conversion to cropland; these ecosystems also have an important role in sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. This project, led by Rewilding Ukraine and focused on steppe grasslands in Ukraine, will assess the carbon storage and sequestration capacity of these dry grasslands. This will allow them to demonstrate the contribution of dry grasslands to climate change mitigation as well as the impacts of land degradation and desertification prevention. In addition, the project will improve understanding of the economic benefits that could be realised via carbon trading schemes. By demonstrating these key benefits, the project hopes to encourage dry grasslands restoration at a national and regional level. 

Increasing Access to Voluntary Carbon Markets 

Lack of long-term funding is a significant barrier to effective landscape restoration in Europe. One potential new source of funding is from carbon offsetting from the private sector via voluntary carbon markets. Landscape restoration projects are well positioned to produce high-quality carbon credits, based on the positive biodiversity and socioeconomic impacts that they deliver alongside carbon storage and sequestration. However, voluntary market certification is complex to navigate and has large upfront costs which may diminish potential returns. This project, led by UNEP-WCMC, aims to provide restoration projects with guidance on engaging with voluntary carbon markets in Europe. The project will identify relevant carbon standards and develop a tool to enable landscape restoration projects to assess the potential costs and returns of engaging with the voluntary carbon market. 

Dr Nancy Ockendon, ELP Science Manager, had this to say about the new projects: “It’s fantastic to be able draw on the expertise and experience that exists across our partner organisations in the ELP and CCI, and to build links between these two communities to ensure the results of these projects make a real difference to restoration work on the ground.”  

In terms of future plans we aim to open another call for more advancing and applying knowledge projects in around 12 months. 

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