Horizon Europe NaturaConnect

Krutynia meanders, Mazurski Park Krajobrazowy (Poland), photo by Waldemar Bzura

NaturaConnect – Designing a resilient and coherent Trans-European Network for Nature and People

The Horizon Europe NaturaConnect Project started in July 2022 and will run until June 2026. 

EUROPARC Federation is bringing its hands of experience of protected areas by joining a new consortium under the Horizon applied research project NaturaConnect. 

NaturaConnect brings together scientists from 21 partner institutions, working with civil society to support the European Union countries to realise their ambitious strategy for protected areas.  The Countries have committed to legally protect a minimum of 30% of the EU’s land and sea area and to strictly protect at least a third of protected areas under the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy as a major contribution to the European Green Deal.

Go to the official project website

Through co-design and engagement at the heart of the project, the partnership seeks to drive the delivery of the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy by tackling two of the major obstacles, namely a lack of stakeholder awareness and cooperation, and insufficient knowledge and access to existing funding mechanisms.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) leads the project and takes responsibility for the overall coordination and project management. Several IIASA researchers participating in the project will also play an active role as task leaders and participants in a variety of work packages under the project. The NaturaConnect team will conduct research, engagement and dissemination activities at the European scale and in a set of six case studies at trans-border, national, and sub-national scales (below picture) to elicit achieving stakeholders’ visions and preferences about how natural areas can be better connected. The project will also mobilise data, and test the spatial prioritisation analyses and tools produced to support the Trans-European Nature Network. NaturaConnect will also tap into best practices in the management of protected areas and mechanisms for conservation financing.

In summary, the project consortium is:

  • Developing spatial planning and mapping support tools to identify conservation and restoration priorities for establishing multifunctional corridors across Europe.
  • Providing baseline data and scenario projections, e.g. species and habitat distribution, current and projected climate conditions, socio-economic opportunities and constraints, and land-use scenarios.
  • Identifying financial support and best practice policy guidelines for the implementation of new Natura2000 or other protected areas. 
  • Engaging stakeholders at different levels and creating adequate training courses for decision-makers, spatial planners and protected area managers.

The Role of EUROPARC Federation: Stakeholder Engagement and Capacity Building

Conservation, restoration and sustainable management must be grounded with accessible and relevant capacity building and communications for stakeholders who will implement and manage such a network. The work package “Engagement and Capacity Building” is one out of nine work packages within NaturaConnect and is led by EUROPARC Federation jointly with the WWF.  Together we are developing the overarching strategy for engagement and capacity building that guides the work through the entire project. On the basis of the needs identified during project implementation, training courses on the different tools will be created, as well as modules on finance, communication and stakeholder engagement. These will be available in a NaturaConnect platform as part of the European Nature Academy (currently being developed).

Wish to know more about this project?

Please be in touch!

Marit Schnepf, project manager: marit.schnepf@europarc.org

Simone Prestes Dürrnagel, project officer: simone.prestes.duerrnagel@europarc.org