Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services

Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services

Available Funding: 
€ 80,000,000

From increased social awareness to more engagement with the private sector, there is a distinct need to build trans-disciplinary collaborations at all scales and across relevant ecosystem types. Win-win solutions and multi-purpose usage that support local biodiversity while delivering specific services and socio-economic benefits are sought. Hence, this topic seeks answers on how to frame transformational change which supports a just transition – to show how investing in nature restoration can explicitly help vulnerable regions and communities to improve their resilience to social and environmental shocks, when rapid changes in climate and environment, economies and social conditions occur.

This topic therefore responds to the urgent double challenge of (i) accelerating transformative change through (ii) upscaling restoration of ecosystems at sea or on land.


Actions should: 

  • provide large-scale demonstrators of how systemic upscaling and replication of best practice ecosystem restoration can be deployed at regional, national and cross-border levels, focusing on degraded terrestrial, freshwater, coastal or marine ecosystems, responding to relevant restoration goals enhancing biodiversity; 
  • in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those with high potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters, and, where relevant, to contribute to the achievement of favourable status for species and habitats of the Birds and Habitats Directives inside and outside the Natura 2000 network of protected areas;
  • adapt, integrate and demonstrate innovative methods (technological, non-technological, social and governance, including sustainable financing) on upscaling ecosystem restoration, also in regions and for communities in transition; 
  • support the development of specific demand and supply chains in restoring ecosystems on land or at sea – recognising that conditions at sea can considerably differ from the ones on land (including freshwater), that speed of change and disturbance might differ, and that solutions to reverse biodiversity decline are context-specific; 
  • demonstrate and test how restoration activities and socio-ecological management of ecosystems enable sustainable, climate-neutral and climate-resilient, inclusive, transformative approaches, including across the bioeconomy (agriculture, forestry, marine and innovative bio-based sectors) and as investments in disaster risk reduction; 
  • promote scaling up and stepping up of implementation of nature-based solutions building on existing experience in particular on lessons learned and best practices gained through EU-funded projects and initiatives such as those supported by Horizon 2020 and the LIFE programme in order to address barriers to implementation for systemic nature-based solutions focussing on restoration in urban, peri-urban, rural or marine areas; 
  • showcase how restoring ecosystems at large scale will also help human communities to adapt to changing conditions at their local level, and how restoration activities can be integrated into economically and socially viable land use practices, enabling a shift of social and behavioural patterns towards increased benefits for biodiversity and strengthening social acceptance and social resilience;
  • demonstrate how to maximise synergies and avoid trade-offs between priorities for restoring biodiversity, mitigating and adapting to climate change (such as those identified jointly by the IPCC and IPBES). 
  • generate knowledge on how large-scale restoration can accelerate transformative change beneficial for biodiversity and climate resilience, and bring this information to UN programmes, as well as to IPCC and IPBES, processes.

Expected Impact:

Actions are expected to demonstrate how transformational change through ecosystem restoration delivers at large scale, delivering first visible results and examples on land and at sea by 2024, with benefits increasing in the long-term.

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • maintained and enhanced natural carbon sinks and reduced greenhouse gas emissions through the important role of biodiversity, local reversal of the degradation of ecosystems, recovery of ecosystem functions, increased connectivity and resilience of ecosystems, and improved delivery of a range of ecosystem services;
  • the objectives of the European Green Deal, including the EU commitment to reduce emission by 50-55% by 2030 and become net carbon-neutral by 2050; the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the EU Nature Directives, the Water and Marine Strategy Framework Directives, the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, the Pollinators Initiative, the Climate Law, the Bioeconomy Strategy and Action Plan, EU Urban Policies, and the revised EU Adaptation Strategy; supporting the EU Covenant of Mayors, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the UN Decade of Restoration including land/sea degradation neutrality, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • widespread and innovative scaling-up of ecosystem restoration to maintain and enhance natural carbon sinks and other ecosystem services, with a view to significantly reducing the carbon and environmental footprint of Europe;
  • increased restoration through uptake of public-private partnerships and (voluntary) market-based incentives for business and individuals within restoration initiatives, including as the result of trans-disciplinary research and stakeholder engagement to help identify co-funding for long-term maintenance and buy-in from the private sector;
  • enhanced empowerment, engagement and reconnection of local communities with nature and increased social awareness on restoration actions, and their benefits;
  • transformational change supporting a just transition based on investing in nature together with vulnerable regions and communities improving their resilience of in the face of rapid changes in climate and environment, economies and social conditions.
Eligible Applicants: 

Eligible countries 

Described in Annex A of the Work Programme. A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.

Project Length: 

The call opens 22/09/2020 and the deadline for submission is 26/01/2021.

Participants will be informed on the outcome of the evaluation 5 months from the deadline for submission.

For more Information: 

For more information please access the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme webpage here.