Conservation organisations unite to overcome barriers to ecosystem restoration in Europe

white pelicans (pelecanus onocrotalus) in Danube Delta, Romania

Leading conservation organisations have today announced the launch of a project that aims to generate collaborative solutions to restore ecosystems across Europe.

While the project is specific to Europe, its solutions could help address global barriers to restoration and support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the UN-led campaign and rallying call for the protection and restoration of ecosystems around the world.

Over the next three years, the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) in partnership with BirdLife International and the RSPB will bring together key stakeholders from relevant sectors, including international and local non-governmental organisations, restoration practitioners, policymakers, as well as representatives from the conservation, restoration and finance sectors. Through dialogue and consultations, the Convening for Restoration project will identify solutions to overcome barriers to large-scale ecosystem restoration.

Restoration can help address biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change while supporting ecosystem services and improving overall human well-being. Restoration efforts form a major part of new global targets for nature. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and related package of decisions – agreed last year by 196 countries – calls for 30 per cent of the world’s degraded land, marine and inland water areas to be restored or under effective restoration management by 2030, as well as setting targets to ensure financing for restoration.

The Convening for Restoration project will build on research published in 2021 that identified three main barriers to restoration in Europe:

  • Conflicting stakeholder interests;
  • Insufficient funding;
  • Low political priority given to restoration.

Between now and 2025, the project, which is being funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative’s Endangered Landscapes Programme, will convene and administer two expert taskforces to examine these three restoration challenges and establish sectoral good practice to inform and energise policy and action. Taskforces on tackling the three key barriers to restoration will be set up under the project and knowledge products targeted to specific audiences will be co-developed and disseminated.

More than 80 per cent of habitats in Europe are in bad or poor conservation status. Meanwhile, the European Green Deal has set the goal of the bloc reaching climate neutrality by 2050: restoring degraded landscapes and seascapes will be key to meeting this promise. The Convening for Restoration project will offer vital insights into how to fill the gap between ambition and success, overcoming the main barriers to ecosystem restoration through collaborative, expertise-led dialogue.

John Tayleur, Head of Nature Restored, UNEP-WCMC

The project launches following the approval of the European Union’s Nature Restoration Law. The law is the first legally binding framework dedicated to restoration in the world, committing EU Member States to actively restore at least 20 per cent of the EU’s land and sea area by 2030. EU Member States will be required to develop and implement national action plans outlining how they will be contributing towards meeting the law’s targets in their own national contexts.

UNEP-WCMC’s work reviewing existing biodiversity information and reporting underpinned the impact assessment that informed the choice of restoration targets set in the law. UNEP-WCMC was also part of the consortium of organisations that developed the rationale for the legislative proposal, assessed the degree of restoration required, proposed actions and analysed the economic costs and benefits.

Momentum is growing for ecosystem restoration and there are big changes on the horizon in the EU, especially after the approval of the Nature Restoration Law. However, we know there are still barriers preventing action on the scale that is needed, and the window to act is closing. This project, in bringing together a diverse range of perspectives and expertise, promises to identify solutions that can lift some of the current roadblocks on action and help create an environment in which nature and people flourish in Europe.

David Thomas, Programme Director, Endangered Landscapes Programme

Visit the project page to find out more about the Convening for Restoration project. You can also email for further information.

UNEP-WCMC works with researchers, governments and businesses around the world to unlock and scale up restoration efforts. Our activities range from raising the profile of restoration success stories and helping restoration initiatives understand the complex carbon credits landscape, to tracking global progress on ecosystem restoration and providing advice and resources to global governments through initiatives such as the NBSAP Forum 2.0. Find out more about our dedicated Nature Restored impact area.

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