Restore-Connect - Restoring connectivity and landscape coherence

In June 2022 the Nature Restoration Law NRL has been published. This legislation forms an important part of the EU Green Deal. The Nature Restoration sets legally binding targets for each Member State for restoration of 20% degraded ecosystems by 2030, and aims must be formulated and measures must be in place by 2050 to restore all degraded ecosystems. After a lot of discussion about the law, in autumn 2023 a final agreement was reached about the law text with the Member States. A formal acceptance of the law is expected in spring 2024 in the European Parliament, followed by the publication of the law text. Next, each EU-Member State has to submit within two years a Nature Restoration Plan.

In RestoreConnect we assess the possibilities for restoration measures and its potential impacts. The focus for restoration is on forests and agricultural areas. Two transboundary study areas were selected, the St Jansberg and Reichswald (towards Germany), as well as Kalmthout and Brabantse Wall (towards Belgium).

Restore-Connect study area

We assess how in particular the habitat types and species from the Habitats Directive are under pressure due to climate change and other environmental pressures, and what restoration measures are possible. With models is assessed what the impact is for biodiversity, productivity, other land use (telecoupling) or spatial connectivity (RestoreConnect!). What are the stakeholders’ views: what options for restoration are most feasible for them?

Restore-Connect study area

Based on these two case study areas we evaluate the opportunities, available knowledge, but we also explore what the knowledge gaps. Further it is assessed how the Nature Restoration Law may impact the adjoining areas in Belgium and Germany, with partners in those countries. Also the cooperative potential is of interest: where are we now, how far can we go, and what are the barriers? The project will result in a ‘Summary for Policymakers’ which can contribute to the Restoration Plan that the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture has to prepare based on the Nature Restoration Law.