EU funded research and innovation strives to reverse biodiversity loss and contribute to nature restoration

The European common frog is amongst the most widespread amphibian species in Europe. There is much to its life cycle that can teach us about the importance of biodiversity, nature and a functioning ecosystem. That is the variety of living animals, plants or bacteria that work together to make up our natural world. As a tadpole a frog purifies ponds and rivers, as an adult it eats and regulates insects such as spiders in parks, in death it becomes nutrients for soil or a tasteful delicacy in a French restaurant.

Like frogs, many species of animals and plants, with a valuable and essential role in the functioning of ecological ecosystems and in human societies are at important risk.

Scientists claim that biodiversity loss, exacerbated by climate change, could lead to a large reduction in European frog levels that could destabilise similar ecosystems, leading to other knock-off effects with natural disturbances of wide reaching proportions.

To fight against such a biodiversity crisis, the European Commission has set out a EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 with much higher ambitions than the previous one (2015-2020). The new strategy aims to protect and reverse the degradation of ecosystems as part of the European Green Deal’s objectives on tackling climate change and environmental degradation.

Europe to lead by example on reversing biodiversity loss and restoring nature

In June of 2022 and as a core element of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, a new EU Restoration Law with binding targets has been proposed, marking a point of change in recognizing the gravity and importance of the issue of degrading ecosystems.

Four flagship projects on ecosystem restoration, funded under the special Green Deal Call, are a direct input to the Green Deal, the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy and the new proposed Nature Restoration Law. The 4 large-scale Horizon 2020 restoration projects below, adding to a total of 85 million euros R&I investments, aim to deliver large-scale restoration interventions. These projects will be spread out across a wide-range of European ecosystems and territories and pave the way for further upscaling and replication activities in the years to come.

Forest conservation can play an important role in reducing air pollution and supports a huge variety of animal life we depend on for food. SUPERB (‘Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services’), will create a lasting environment for transformative change towards large-scale forest and forest landscape restoration. The aim is to empower decision-makers to take informed decisions for the restoration of biodiversity, ecosystem services and carbon sequestration. This will minimise region specific trade-offs and maximise synergies between ecosystem services for the benefit of all European forests.

Find out more about SUPERB

MERLIN (Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: Innovation, upscaling and transformation) project will demonstrate best practices for freshwater restoration, including in the restoration of streams, large transboundary rivers and petlands and wetlands. MERLIN will draw on successful freshwater restoration projects across Europe transforming them into beacons of innovation. Through collaborations with local communities and key economies, MERLIN will co-develop win–win solutions spearheading systemic economic, social and environmental change.

Find out more about MERLIN

With 50 % of European wetlands having disappeared in the last century, protecting them is a priority. WaterLANDS (Water-based solutions for carbon storage, people and wilderness) project will tackle large-scale restoration of wetland sites across Europe that have been decimated by human activity. Going beyond simple restoration, WaterLANDS will synthesise existing knowledge of ecology, community, governance and finance, and best-practice models for scalable, resilient restoration. WaterLANDS will also engage with local communities and stakeholders to ensure that wetland restoration results in tangible community gains, alongside environmental rehabilitation.Find out more about WaterLANDS

REST COAST will demonstrate how upscaled coastal restoration can provide low-carbon solutions to climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction for vulnerable coastal ecosystems such as  seabed meadows and coastal dunes, combined with gains in their biodiversityBy overcoming present technical, economic, governance and social barriers to restoration upscaling, REST COAST will develop the large-scale river-coast connectivity and increase the nearshore accommodation space for the resilient delivery of coastal ecosystem services such as reducing erosion and flood risks .

Find out more about REST-COAST

Get to know more about what you can do to help nature restoration in Europe today:

Funding opportunities

Pioneering proposals to restore Europe’s nature by 2050.

Source: European Research Executive Agency (