Impressions from the European Conference on Ecological Restoration 2014

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Fen mires in Finland © Boris Barov

In the next few posts I would like to share some thoughts and experiences from the SER2014 conference, 3-8 August 2014 in Oulu.

My first and quite positive impression was that unlike two years ago, the discussion around the EU Biodiversity policy on restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services was much clearer and to the point.

Policy makers have often declared the need for clear guidance from the scientific community when setting political targets. Far too often this has not happened.

At the same time, the European Union has openly expressed ambitions to lead in the implementation of the CBD commitments to biodiversity. (However, great examples of high quality can be found worldwide, as this recent story from Nepal shows).

But let’s focus this post on the most relevant to ecological restoration political commitment in the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, as stated in its Target 2 By 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems.

The background of this important target was introduced by the keynote speech of the EC official Patrick Murphy. Several other presenters spoke about the toolbox that we have to assess the baseline and to mark progress towards the target. Examples were given from Finland and other EU Member States on their ongoing efforts to map the extent of ecosystems and the flow of ecosystem services from them.

Overall, significant progress has been made in clarifying the definitions and language behind the text of Target 2 as well as to the ways forward in its implementation.

That is why I thought it important to dedicate several posts on this important topic, starting with the basic question: what is the meaning of Target 2 and how S.M.A.R.T. is this target?

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