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ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network

Europe’s ecosystem research network


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European policy makers are for the first time actively involved in the science underpinning their biodiversity policy

Ghent, April 18th | From Monday 15th to Thursday 18th April, over 200 scientists from 66 European research institutes and more than 25 countries, together with European policy makers, have been developing scientifically sound, evidence-based recommendations on how to implement and realize the 2020 European Biodiversity Strategy. This conference was organized by the European biodiversity research network ALTER-Net, together with the European Commission.
European policy makers are for the first time actively involved in the science underpinning their biodiversity policy

Courtyard of the Augustinian monastery, venue for the conference. Photo: Allan Watt

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From over 50 recommendations, 6 final and principal ones were distilled – one for each European target. They were deemed by conference participants to be the most urgent and important requirements to enable Europe to meet its biodiversity targets for 2020 and beyond.

European Commission representatives agreed upon using the conference’s recommendations throughout the European policy development process.

The 6 recommendations are:

  1. EU-target 1: Ecosystem health is the key to Natura 2000 (the EU’s network of protected areas), together with genetic health of its species; both are extremely important for human health
  2. EU-target 2: Mapping ecosystems and valuing their services is seen as beneficial in most cases, but there remains great concern about economic valuation and merchandising of biodiversity
  3. EU-target 3: Knowing which problems need standard approaches and which need targeted approaches is vital to be able to apply effective regulation and innovative, diversified solutions
  4. EU-target 4: Science is the engine to generate adaptive management tools to optimise sustainable and ecosystem-based fisheries rather than management based on a single species approach
  5. EU-target 5: Policy should aim at the broad impact of Invasive Alien Species and their interaction with native biodiversity, health and food production, rather than on details: the first challenge is to develop legal and economic instruments
  6. EU-target 6: The price of food, fibre and water should encompass both the production and maintenance cost of the ecosystem.


What’s ALTER-Net?

ALTER-Net brings together 26 leading scientific institutes from 18 European countries. They share the goal of integrating their research capability to assess changes in biodiversity, analyse the effect of those changes on ecosystem services and inform the public and policy makers on the issues at a European scale. Originally funded by the European Union’s Framework VI program to stimulate a collaborative approach, ALTER-Net is now operating independently.

Being an independent science-policy interface network working on biodiversity and ecosystem (services) issues, ALTER-Net wants to positively help the EU in realizing their biodiversity targets by providing its scientific knowledge, e.g. by pointing out possible weaknesses, opportunities and necessities, and by helping to find solutions and evidence-based actions.

Notes to the editor:

  • Contact: Koen van Muylem (local press contact person) , INBO, Belgium (Koen.VANMUYLEM@INBO.BE)
  • Conference web pages
  • ALTER-Net is using social media as well. Please follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or join our LinkedIn Group to find out more about us and stay updated. Links are at the top of our website.


The EU's biodiversity objectives:

  1. Conserving and restoring nature
  2. Maintaining and enhancing ecosystems and their services
  3. Ensuring the sustainability of agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  4. Combating invasive alien species
  5. Addressing the global biodiversity crisis
  6. Contributions of other environmental policies and initiatives (not dealt with during the conference)

Find the EU Biodiversity Strategy here...