Restoring biodiversity and natural ecosystem processes at a landscape scale is a complex business. Understanding and accommodating the needs and interests of diverse stakeholders, consideration of varied and fragmented tenure types, and the need for relevant scientific evidence to support policy change, are just some of the challenges to the development of new initiatives. By providing funding to support the work needed to build alliances, understand systems, prepare plans and draft funding proposals, the Programme is catalyzing the development of exciting, innovative new landscape restoration projects across Europe.

From the wetlands of Iceland that were drained for agriculture, to the Azov-Black Sea ecological corridor where development has degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the potential exists to restore biodiversity and ecosystem processes to benefit people and nature.

Explore our Planning Grant Projects

AZOV-BLACK SEA CORRIDOR | UKRAINE
Enhancing opportunities for ecological restoration in the Azov-Black Sea eco-corridor

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Project Partners

   

The Azov-Black Sea coastline is a highly important migration corridor, providing a stopover for 8 million birds twice a year, as they travel between breeding sites in Eurasia and wintering grounds in Africa and the Middle East. This coastline supports more than 10,000 species of flora and fauna, but over the last 70 years the resilience and biodiversity of its land and aquatic ecosystems have deteriorated due to substantial human pressures.

This project lays the groundwork for large-scale restoration to sustain the functionality of the Azov-Black Sea eco-corridor, through connectivity assessment, stakeholder engagement and development of a political framework for its protection.

AZOV-BLACK SEA CORRIDOR

BELARUS PEATLANDS | BELARUS
Developing a practical vision for restoring Belarus’ peatlands

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Project Partners

 

Peatlands are an essential part of the European landscape, providing habitats for many species as well as multiple ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, yet they are among the most threatened habitats in Europe. Only one third of Belarus’ 2.6 million ha of peatlands remain in a natural or close to natural state – the rest have been drained for agricultural use, forestry or peat extraction. Belarus now ranks high among carbon emission hotspots globally. Due to ineffective use in agriculture and forestry, many drained areas are now designated for ecological rehabilitation at the national level. Based on restoration efforts in Belarus to date, this project will create a proposal to rewet a significant portion of degraded peatland.

Belarus_Siarhey Kaltovich

BIAŁOWIEŻA FOREST | POLAND
Białowieża: Cracking the stalemate and restoring Europe’s last remaining lowland primeval forest

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The extensive and ethereal Białowieża (Beloveshskaya Pushcha), a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the last great primary forests in Europe. This project will initiate landscape-level and cross-border restoration of the forest’s hydrology, which is essential to maintain its outstanding biodiversity value. To address an ongoing dispute in Poland and Belarus over intensive logging in the forest, this project is taking a novel transboundary approach to progress the political stalemate. By planning and coordinating priority restoration activities on both sides of the border, it is estimated that up to 20,000 ha of drained mires and formerly straightened riverbeds can be rewetted and restored within the Białowieża ecosystem.

Bialowieza_Daniel Rosengren

BULGARIA’S GREEN BELT | BULGARIA
Restoring ecological networks in Bulgaria’s Green Belt

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Project Partners

Southeast State Forestry Enterprise (SSFE)

 

 

Bulgaria’s southeastern ‘Green Belt’ near the border with Turkey, once a strictly controlled zone, is now one of the least populated regions in the country. It is of high ecological importance, being a stronghold for the Balkan eastern imperial eagle, forming part of the flyway for thousands of storks and raptors and supporting many other wildlife species. Over time this area has been degraded by commercial plantation forestry, which has used ill-suited species that provide feeble economic returns. This project will create a plan to conserve and restore natural forest types and original grassland biodiversity over 230,000 ha of Natura 2000 areas - by converting commercial forests into native oak forest, restoring riverine corridors and introducing natural grazing.

Bulgaria_S_Spasov

CUMBRIAN LAKES AND DALES | ENGLAND
Connecting people and landscape in Cumbria’s Lakes and Dales

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Project Partners

This project’s focus is a landscape mosaic of mountain and moorland, forest and farmland, supporting species such as red squirrel and alpine butterflies. It is a beautiful but troubled landscape; nature is declining, and land management is often dictated by short-term interests rather than long-term sustainability. This project will work with the people that live and work in Cumbria’s lakes and dales to map a collective route towards a landscape-scale, nature-led future that connects economy, ecology and cultural identity. This project has a vision for a restored landscape, which is resilient to climate change, where a healthy ecosystem and cultural heritage are entwined, jointly supporting jobs, community, wildlife, water provision and flood protection.

Cumbria_Patrick Neaves

GRUNNAFJÖRÐUR WATERSHED | ICELAND
Restoring the watershed landscape of Grunnafjörður in Western Iceland

Project Lead

 

Votlendissjóðurinn - Icelandic Wetland Fund

Project Partners

More than 90% of Iceland’s lowland wetlands, which are rich in birds, invertebrates and plants, have historically been drained for conversion to agriculture. Over 350,000 ha of these damaged ecosystems are no longer in use, yet they collectively account for almost three quarters of national carbon emissions. The Icelandic Wetland Fund is now leading a partnership to plan restoration of the Hvalfjarðarsveit (Whale Fjord) watershed by reinstating natural hydrological processes. This will create a win-win-win scenario by protecting the Grunnafjörður Ramsar site, restoring habitats and reducing carbon emissions. Engaging the community, farmers and landowners, this partnership will refine methodologies for measuring emissions, monitoring biodiversity and planning large-scale restoration - in time creating replicable educational and economic opportunities.

Iceland

HUMBER ESTUARY | ENGLAND
Restoring the Humber – The Coastal Conservation Corridor

Project Lead

Project Partners

Natural England

Local Authorities

Humber Nature Partnership

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

The Humber estuary on England’s east coast is an important site for wintering, migratory and breeding birds, grey seals and lamprey, as well as a significant fin-fish nursery servicing the North Sea. Intensive agriculture and hard engineering for flood management have, however, contributed to habitat fragmentation and connectivity loss. In the face of increasing challenges including rising sea levels, vulnerability of farmland and increasing conflict between the needs of industry and wildlife, this project will explore new land-use options. These include the transition of large areas of defended and intensively farmed land to a wilder landscape. With funding from the ELP, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will facilitate feasibility studies and discussions with key stakeholders.

Humber_Jono Leadley

MONTADO MOSAIC | PORTUGAL
Restoring the Mediterranean montado landscape of Margem Esquerda, Eastern Guadiana

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Project Partners

Flanked by Spain’s border and the vast Guadiana River, this project’s unique landscape in Southern Portugal includes a mosaic of rare Mediterranean montado habitat, supporting some of the highest levels of biodiversity found in any cultural agro-ecosystem in the world. Increasing and unsustainable pressures on the land have, however, led to loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural habitats and the landscape’s structural mosaic. To restore a multi-functioning landscape which is able to encourage wildlife comeback and support the tens of thousands of people who depend on it, the project will work with stakeholders to prepare a targeted plan to create a landscape that it is self-sustaining, biodiverse and productive in the long-term.

Montado

SOUTHERN IBERIAN CHAIN | SPAIN
The Southern Iberian Chain: restoring one of Spain’s most iconic landscapes

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Project Partners

 

Flanked by Spain’s border and the vast Guadiana River, this project’s unique landscape in Southern Portugal includes a mosaic of rare Mediterranean montado habitat, supporting some of the highest levels of biodiversity found in any cultural agro-ecosystem in the world. Increasing and unsustainable pressures on the land have, however, led to loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural habitats and the landscape’s structural mosaic. To restore a multi-functioning landscape which is able to encourage wildlife comeback and support the tens of thousands of people who depend on it, the project will work with stakeholders to prepare a targeted plan to create a landscape that it is self-sustaining, biodiverse and productive in the long-term.

Southern_Iberia_tbc

TICINO RIVER BASIN | Italy & Switzerland
Restoring the Ticino River Basin ecological corridor

Project Lead

Project Partners

The Ticino River Basin is a functional terrestrial and aquatic ecological corridor between the Alps, Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, supporting a myriad of habitats and native species. Shared by Switzerland and Italy, this landscape is among the most densely inhabited and productive in Europe for agriculture and yet still hosts valuable biodiversity. While pressures threaten the landscape and its biodiversity, current synergies and opportunities make it an ideal time to bring stakeholders together to fulfill a new vision. This project aims to develop plans for a ‘one river – many systems – one landscape’ vision through tangible measures to restore native habitats, endangered wildlife and river functions, encourage sustainable livelihoods, and foster resilience to climate change.

Ticino_Fondazione Bolle Magadino