Background & Motivation

There are several legal frameworks, strategies and action plans that have been put in place by the global community and the EU to protect nature and restore habitats and species. However, a core challenge in biodiversity governance is the series of trade-offs that emerge across sectors and scales e.g., between conservation policies and development agendas or by adapting region-wide policies at the national or local level. The value of biodiversity and ecosystems needs to be taken into account across all economic sectors and areas of policy. Therefore, there is a need to improve the capacity of decision-making -and research that informs it- to assess the synergies and trade-offs among the multiple policy objectives and management decisions toward a more efficient and user-oriented approach.

GUARDEN’s main mission is to safeguard biodiversity and its contributions to people by bringing them to the forefront of policy and decision-making. This will be achieved through the development of user-oriented Decision Support Applications (DSAs), and leveraging on Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs). They will take into account policy and management objectives and priorities across sectors and scales, build consensus to tackle data gaps, analytical uncertainties or conflicting objectives, and assess options to implement adaptive transformative change.

GUARDEN will make use of a suite of methods and tools using Deep Learning, Earth Observation, and hybrid modelling to augment the amount of standardized and geo-localized biodiversity data, build-up a new generation of predictive models of biodiversity and ecosystem status indicators under multiple pressures (human and climate), and propose a set of complementary ecological indicators for local management and policy. The GUARDEN approach will be applied to sectoral case studies involving end users and stakeholders through MSPs, and addressing critical cross-sectoral challenges (i.e., at the nexus of biodiversity and deployment of energy/transport infrastructure, agriculture, and coastal urban development). Thus, the GUARDEN DSAs shall help stakeholders engaged in the challenge to improve their holistic understanding of ecosystem functioning, biodiversity loss and its drivers and explore the potential ecological and societal impacts of alternative decisions. Upon the acquisition of this new knowledge and evidence, the DSAs will help end-users not only navigate but also (re-)shape the policy landscape to make informed all-encompassing decisions through cross-sectoral integration.