The Endangered Landscapes Programme awarded second phase of funding to restore more landscapes in Europe

Posted: 11th February 2021

Photo: Viktar Malyshchyc

The Endangered Landscapes Programme (ELP) is thrilled to announce a second phase of funding from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. The ELP, managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), supports a vision for Europe’s land and seascapes in which biodiversity and ecosystem processes are restored for the benefit of people and nature.

Humanity’s dependence on healthy landscapes – to provide us with clean air and water, to feed us, to offer inspiration and connection with nature – is more apparent than ever. Europe has suffered, and continues to suffer, from ecological decline; from biodiversity loss and erosion of ecosystem services, to the degradation and fragmentation of habitats on a massive scale. The restoration of degraded landscapes and revival of the natural systems which sustain us has never been more urgent. The ELP is part of a response to growing calls for reversing biodiversity loss, tackling climate change, and creating resilient, nature-based economies. At a time when humankind and nature face a precarious future, the Endangered Landscapes Programme offers hope for positive and sustainable change.

The ELP was established in 2016, thanks to an inaugural award of $30 million (£23 million) from Arcadia. The large-scale restoration projects across Europe that it funds demonstrate the potential for nature to recover. Building on the success of this first phase, the Programme has received a further gift of $34.9million (£26m), thanks to the generosity of Arcadia and their trusted relationship with the University of Cambridge and CCI.

“All of us at Arcadia are inspired and encouraged by the progress that the Endangered Landscapes Programme has achieved to date, and especially by the motivation and commitment of the project teams working to realise the programme’s vision. Their projects illustrate the variety of landscapes that exist across Europe, and the tremendous potential offered by the restoration of their natural wealth.

We look forward to seeing the next generation of projects come to fruition, working together with communities, organisations, and local governments to restore resilient, self-sustaining landscapes that benefit both nature and people.”

Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, Arcadia’s founders

The Endangered Landscapes Programme was established in 2016 thanks to inaugural funding from Arcadia, and officially launched in October 2018. Photo: Toby Smith.

Arcadia has long-supported conservation efforts and awarded more than $300 million in environmental grants since 2002. Their mission to safeguard and restore biodiversity on land and sea is shared by CCI, a unique collaboration between nine conservation organisations and the University of Cambridge seeking to transform biodiversity conservation. By catalysing strategic partnerships between leaders in research, education, policy and practice CCI aims to transform the global understanding and conservation of biodiversity and, through this, secure a sustainable future for nature and society.

“We are extremely grateful to Arcadia for providing this second phase of funding for the Endangered Landscapes Programme. Through this flagship programme, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is restoring vital landscapes and ensuring the future of biodiversity across swathes of Europe.”

Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge

Projects currently being funded by the ELP are already showing the benefits to be won from restoring nature at the landscape-scale. For example, in the Danube delta, dam removal is restoring river connectivity, improving river flow for migratory fish species and allowing restored vegetation to support spawning grounds. The translocation of keystone species like water buffalo, konik horses, kulan and eagle owl is helping to create a diverse mosaic of habitats for other species, as well as providing opportunities for nature-based tourism.

Many projects supported by the ELP are reintroducing missing species to landscapes – such as konik horses to the Danube Delta – to re-establish natural processes and provide new economic opportunities for local communities. Photo: Andrey Nekrasov.

On the coast of Southwest Turkey, a project has restored caves used as breeding habitat by the Critically Endangered Mediterranean monk seal, and in northern Portugal teams are working to extend the range of native roe deer populations to support the Endangered Iberian wolf and help reduce predation on domestic livestock like sheep and cattle. All of these initiatives are underpinned by capacity development, lesson-learning and robust monitoring to determine what does and does not work in restoration with results made available open-access to help build knowledge in the wider restoration field.

This major philanthropic funding sends a strong signal for the importance of restoration in Europe, and beyond, and comes at an opportune time given the UN’s decision to make 2021 – 2030 a ‘Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’.

“With this additional funding, the ELP can ensure that more landscapes are protected and restored, support the recovery of key species and natural processes, help create sustainable, nature-based economies, contribute to climate change mitigation, and provide more opportunities for people to reconnect with nature. We look forward to sharing the positive stories and outcomes enabled by this additional funding.”

Dr David Thomas, Endangered Landscapes Programme Director

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