The team of the European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis (ETC-UMA) at the University of Malaga joins its first Horizon Europe project contributing with its expertise on wetland mapping and assessment at European scale showcased during the Kick off meeting held in Aveiro, Portugal.
RESTORE4Cs, a freshly started project led by the University of Aveiro, will address management and restoration actions to maintain and promote the mitigation and adaptation capacity of European wetlands to climate change, while focusing on coastal wetlands and providing innovative tools and methodologies for decision making and restoration planning and actions. This initiative, to run from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2025, is addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and habitat degradation towards a sustainable management of European wetlands.
What is the potential of wetlands to deliver multiple ecosystem services to societes? How can multiple challenges such as climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, disaster risk reduction and other threats to ecosystem services be tackled to foster mutually reinforcing actions and enhance co-benefits from wetland restoration?
All major European Union (EU) policies recognise the key role of wetlands to achieve the EU objectives regarding climate neutrality, biodiversity protection, zero-pollution, flood protection, and circular economy. Therefore, assessing the current extent and condition of European wetlands, their present and potential greenhouse gases (GHG) profile and their medium to long-term mitigation capacity through restoration, or other measures, are key priorities of the European Union to tackle climate change. Led by the University of Aveiro in Portugal, the recently awarded Horizon project RESTORE4Cs (Modelling RESTORation of wEtlands for Carbon pathways, Climate Change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystem services, and biodiversity, Co-benefits) will assess the role of restoration action on wetlands capacity in terms of climate change mitigation and a wide range of ecosystem services using an integrative socio-ecological systems approach.
The project Kick Off Meeting, held in Aveiro from 16 to 19 January 2023, has officially marked the start of the project consortium’s activities, gathering representatives of 15 partners from 9 European countries, including universities, research institutes and infrastructures, small and medium enterprises, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs, bringing together a well-structured and multi-disciplinary team, holding all the essential expertise to be at the forefront of the research/policy interface.
Focusing on coastal wetlands across Europe, RESTORE4Cs will deliver standardised methodologies and approaches for the prioritisation of restoration, promoting carbon-storage and GHG emissions abatement, while improving the ecological status and the provision of additional ecosystem services, such as flood regulation and coastal erosion protection. More in detail, the project will provide online, user-friendly and integrated tools as unique entry points for wetland practitioners and decision makers regarding the prioritisation of conservation and restoration actions, in relation with their GHG performance as well as impacts on biodiversity and a wide range of ecosystem services while addressing in parallel three spatial scales (local, national, regional/pan-European) combined with the three targeted habitats (wetlands, floodplans and peatlands).
The ETC-UMA team will support the policy and user analysis of the project leading on the wetland mapping and assessment, and coordinate the creation of a dedicated data portal for wetland related information. These inputs are based on previous collaborations with the European Environment Agency, the European Commission and the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition as well as the participation in a series of research projects.
RESTORE4Cs mission is to support the implementation of Climate and Biodiversity policies in the context of the European Green Deal, by:
- Gathering effectiveness data on restoration and land use management actions on climate services and other ecosystem and socio-economic services thanks to six Case Pilot sites across European coastal areas (Ebro Delta in Spain, Camargue in France, Ria de Aveiro in Portugal, Oosterschelde/Grevelingen Delta en los Países Bajos, Curonian Lagoon in Lithuania, Danube Delta in Rumania), including wetlands in different conditions of conservation, and implementing a meta-analysis.
- Upscaling models and integrative assessment tools to wider geographical and ecological contexts (other wetland types, including floodplains and peatlands), using remote sensing and machine learning methods to develop an integrated status assessment of European wetlands.
- Structuring a European Community of Practice (ECoP) by connecting institutions, policymakers, scientists and the general public on wetlands restoration to support the implementation of the new EU Nature Restoration Law of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and to foster climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.
- Co-designing a multi-actor approach for the project’s stakeholder interaction at the EU and local level and increasing the impact of existing cooperation.
Project results will be made available through a digital platform to serve as a Decision Support System (DSS) for stakeholders, that will steer project efforts as part of this newly created Community of Practice around wetland restoration for climate change mitigation, biodiversity, and other services. This online platform will provide stakeholders and wetland practitioners at all levels with more reliable estimation of cost and benefits to drive and prioritize wetland restoration actions. Moreover, social acceptability of wetland restoration will be explored; this approach will be paramount to ensure the long-term transdisciplinary perspective of wetland management, as restoration offers a positive opportunity to both secure wetlands’ inherent ecological, environmental, and social values and increase the local communities’ sustainability.
RESTORE4Cs project key data:
funded under Horizon 2.5 – Climate, Energy and Mobility (main Programme)
Horizon 2.5.1 – Climate science and solutions
Duration: January 2023 – December 2025
Budget: € 6 644 842,50 (EU contribution € 6 644 837)
Coordinated by University of Aveiro, Portugal
More about the project: https://www.etc.uma.es/restore4cs/