It is critical that animals (and the genes and seeds that they carry) can move from one natural area to another, and this “connectivity” is essential for preserving healthy ecosystems which are rich in species and genetically diverse. Restoring and maintaining large and interconnected natural areas is therefore of utmost importance for the conservation of nature in Europe.
Implementing the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, and achieving a good ecological status of waters under the EU Water Framework Directive, will require large-scale ecological restoration in the EU. The EU committed to restoring 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020, but will fall short of this target.
Improving connectivity through corridors and restoration is essential to improve the ecological integrity and functioning of the Natura 2000 Network. But benefits will also go beyond the conservation of species and habitats: ecosystem restoration can help flood risk reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation and support community well-being, tourism and public health.
What is WWF doing?
WWF is working with Rewilding Europe, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, the European Environmental Bureau and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) to strengthen the EU restoration agenda and to ensure that specific actions are taken to create a coherent ecological network in Europe by promoting rewilding principles. A European map which identifies key areas for restoration is being developed as a guideline for restoration in the EU.
WWF wants the European Commission to act upon the calls from Member States and the European Parliament to establish a network of Green Infrastructure of European relevance. The aim of this network should be to restore and better connect functional ecosystems, using the Natura 2000 network as its backbone and supported by EU funding.