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MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling

Restoration of ecosystem functioning and biodiversity in semi-natural habitats under high pressure

Alternative title: Restaurering av økosystemfunksjoner og biodiversitet i semi-naturlige naturtyper under sterkt arealpress

Awarded: NOK 14.1 mill.

In RESTORE, we will develop new solutions for restoration of semi-natural nature that are in danger of loss and deterioration due to changes in land use. The results will provide a basis for a better conservation of the biological diversity and the ecological functions that exist in semi-natural nature. Loss and degredation of nature are one of the biggest threats to both biodiversity and human welfare both in Norway and globally. The destruction and degredation of nature must cease, and UN has declared 2021-2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Ecological restoration means assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been damaged or destroyed. Semi-natural habitats have a high biological diversity and represent important soil resources that contribute to food production. Areas of semi-natural habitats disappear quickly, and the habitat types are considered endangered in both Norway and Europe. It is therefore especially important to restore semi-natural habitats so that additional areas are not lost. In RESTORE, we will develop tools to assess the restoration potential of selected semi-natural habitat types, as well as tools to assess the restoration effect. We will also examine new and innovative methods and subsidy schemes that can contribute to more targeted restoration. All results from the project will be used to develop new effective solutions for restoration that can be used by various actors in society who perform restoration of a semi-natural nature. The project is a collaborative project between scientists and social actors such as nature management and business. Partners are Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Møreforsking, Institute for Rural and Regional Research , Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Multiconsult, The Norwegian Environment Agency, Norwegian Nature Inspectorate, County Governor Trøndelag and University of Tartu.

Semi-natural habitats are under high pressure due to land use change and land degradation. Restoration of degraded nature is necessary to reverse the pervasive threats to ecosystems from overexploitation, agricultural expansion, intensification or abandonment, urban development, fragmentation, and invasive species. Current knowledge gaps and challenges in restoration science and management calls for better collaboration between relevant sectors. RESTORE brings together experienced researchers, management authorities, hands-on practitioners, private consultants, user groups, and other stakeholders with an interest in restoration of semi-natural habitats in Norway. RESTORE’s primary objective is to develop evidence-based, novel solutions for restoration of semi-natural habitats. By applying a co-learning and adaptive research approach that involves all project partners, RESTORE will develop new measures and tools to stimulate ecosystem-based restoration in user-friendly and sector relevant ways. RESTORE will reach its objectives through four scientific work-packages. First, we will develop a conceptual framework defining restoration potential and the links between restoration and ecological effects (WP1). Then, the framework and its respective indicators, as well as technical restoration innovations, will be tested and verified in field experiments and case studies (WP2). Further, we will assess current agricultural schemes from which farmers and landowners receive restoration incentives and explore the potential for a results-based approach to promote restoration of semi-natural habitats in the future (WP3). Finally, RESTORE will operationalize the knowledge from WP1-3 and develop toolboxes and guidelines for evidence-based restoration in Norway (WP4). The new solutions will be adapted and disseminated broadly to national and international stakeholders.

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MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling