To stop biodiversity declines and meet future challenges, a better understanding is needed on how biodiversity is affected by historic and current land use changes. In the COCONUT project we will (1) gather existing and new data on both historic and current species richness and land use (GIS) across Europe, (2) synthesise these data and perform meta-analyses to assess the extent of biodiversity loss and to understand how land use change affects biodiversity change, (3) use the results to parametrise predictive models to project future land use and biodiversity change in response to socioeconomic scenarios, (4) based on these results, and in close collaboration with key policy makers at the European level throughout the project, develop decision tools and policy options for main EU policy areas for mitigating biodiversity loss. Relevant policy areas are agriculture, environment, rural development, transport and energy. Historic time lags in extinction patterns (extinction debts) will be investigated. For this purpose, detailed data will be collected in five case study areas on extent of habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation and impacts on biodiversity as a result of historic land use changes dating up to 100 years back. European scale effects of habitat loss will be explored by data mining of Natura 2000 and other available data bases on biodiversity and land use. Meta-analyses of existing data on land use and diversity of plants, invertebrates and birds will be performed in synthesis workshops to which external data holders are invited. These results, that are largely lacking today, will be used to parametrise biodiversity models that predict risk of species extinction in land use scenario models. Policy experts and stakeholders will be involved early on and throughout the project. Policy oriented workshops together with a policy advisory board will provide a framework for continuous dialogue between scientists and policy makers throughout COCONUT. We aim to develop support tools and deliver scientific results to underpin policy options that will minimize and mitigate biodiversity loss resulting from future land use changes. Strong links among the partners to several EU projects and national data bases will enable access to data, tools and information critical for the development of large scale, general predictions of land use change effects on biodiversity, and the following development of policy options for land use management. Particularly important are the links between COCONUT and MACIS1. Both projects have strong synergies with the Integrated Project ALARM2.
Understanding mycorrhizal functions across scales
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