European biodiversity is in decline, with can impact important natural services, such as pollination, water provisioning or climate mitigation. Our best chance to halt and reverse biodiversity loss are the expansion and more effective management of protected areas and our natural resources, as also stated by European. Existing protection efforts have largely been insufficient to halt biodiversity loss. There is increasing recognition that an implementation of the biodiversity policies needs adequate planning in an informed decision making process to identify which areas are best to conserve, improved in management or be restored. INSPIRE will support Member States in making decisions on how to address some of the objectives of the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, such as the expansion of the Natura 2000 network, to achieve the 30% protection/ 10% strict protection targets, or how to best integrate biodiversity conservation into other sectors under current policy priorities (e.g., Green Deal, CAP, CFP, and other sectoral Directives).

In the INSPIRE project we aim to develop a novel decision-support framework for prioritising management efforts across realms (terrestrial, freshwater, marine), while accounting for synergies and trade-offs in multifunctional and changing environmental conditions. Innovatively the project will consider diverse drivers across socioeconomic sectors to reconcile conservation and the sustainable use of nature at landscape scale. The INSPIRE project is a multi-national project with three case studies across Europe, each of which covers at least two different realms and trans-national borders, and which are also facing future challenges in terms of resource demand and climate change.

The main research questions that will be addressed by INSPIRE are:

  1. How to design of a more coherent network of protected areas accounting for connectivity and propagation of threats between and within realms, to enhance the resilience of conservation efforts?
  2. How existing incentives and legal instruments, such as Key Biodiversity Areas, World Heritage & Ramsar Sites, or EBSAs, can be combined with systematic conservation planning approaches for the prioritization of new protected sites?;
  3. How to maximize the contribution of non-protected areas to conservation objectives, by accounting for management outside protected areas, through other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) or high nature value farmland?
  4. How to find a balance between policy integration across sectors and efficiency to best achieve multiple objectives set by the Biodiversity Strategy and other EU sectoral policies?
  5. How to identify climate refugia for biodiversity and how to integrate this knowledge into spatial prioritization analyses?

Within Austria, we will spatial-explicitly explore different management options for the broader Neusiedl lake and Seewinkel catchment area up to 2050. The lake and surrounding area provide a variety of important services particular with regards to tourism and recreational value, agriculture and water provisioning. Neusiedl is also among the largest freshwater lakes in Europe, and in particular the Seewinkel Salz lacken provide critical habitat for many rare species and regularly harbour the largest concentrations of migrating bird species in Austria. Together with stakeholders from the region we aim to design a set of possible management scenarios for the region up to 2050 that aligns with the European Biodiversity Strategy and maximizes conservation and other sectoral benefits in the light of climate change. The result will be a series of spatial prioritization maps highlighting opportunities for which areas could be best managed in what way to maximize future environmental and human benefits


Scenic summer nature landscape in Nationalpark Hohe Tauern, Salzburg, Austria

28 June 2023

Martin Jung receives 2023 European Early Career Conservation Award

Martin Jung, a researcher in the Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation Research Group of the IIASA Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program has received the Society for Conservation Biology’s 2023 European Early Career Conservation Award for his outstanding contributions to conservation science.