Brussels, Jan 2006
During the last four years the European Commission has successfully supported the creation of an EU-wide network of national, European and international players engaged in biodiversity research. With the upcoming launch of a specific support action funded by the FP6 priority, "Global Change and Ecosystems", this effort will be expanded and strengthened. Biodiversity maintains essential primary ecosystem functions such as production and decomposition. Life on Earth depends on the components of biological diversity to provide food, breathable air, clean water and shelter, among other things. Biodiversity maintains essential primary ecosystem functions such as production and decomposition.
Though the human race is part of biodiversity, its activities are also the main cause of loss of diversity. The need for research into the impact of anthopogenic activity on biodiversity and ways to halt the latter's decline thus grows more acute with each passing year, which is why the EU continues to support research in this area.
For example, negotiations for the specific support action, BIOSTRAT, should get underway soon. Formally known as "Developing the EU Biodiversity Research Strategy", BIOSTRAT is designed to develop and continually revise the EU's existing biodiversity research strategy. By doing this it will strengthen further Europe's effort to halt biodiversity loss.
The European Platform for Biodiversity Strategy (EPBRS) developed an "Action Plan for Biodiversity Research". The plan identifies the knowledge needed to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe and elsewhere, and to improve understanding of the drivers and ecological, economic and social consequences of biodiversity change. It offered targets for changes in the funding and organisation of biodiversity research in Europe to enable science to help halt the loss of biodiversity.
BIOPLATFORM as springboard
BIOSTRAT will build on the work of BIOPLATFORM, a 42-month thematic network, which was funded by the EU's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5). BIOSTRAT will pick up where BIOPLATFORM left off by building on the EU's existing biodiversity research strategy.
Whereas BIOPLATFORM brought together 28 partners – i.e., nearly all EU Member States, the accession countries of Romania and Bulgaria, and the FP5 associated states of Norway and Switzerland – BIOSTRAT's geographic stretch is even wider. Its 36 partners include newcomers Turkey, Croatia, China, Costa Rica, South Africa and Russia.
BIOPLATFORM played a significant role in creating the European Research Area for biodiversity research by launching 20 new national platforms across the EU for biodiversity, for instance. It also helped organising seven EPBRS meetings during successive EU presidencies (Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands), as well as two meetings in the EU's newer member states Poland and Hungary.
Those meetings had a positive impact by shaping future biodiversity research agendas and policies at different levels across the EU, since they brought policy-makers and researchers together for a common dialogue.
Carrying on the torch of research
Similarly, BIOSTRAT will also facilitate exchanges of information on biodiversity research, promote best practices and a common scientific understanding of biodiversity conservation, and support networks and infrastructures for biodiversity research. It will:
- support EPBRS;
- include results of existing and ongoing biodiversity research;
- interact with national, European and international funding programmes, especially European Research Area networks related to biodiversity issues;
- incorporate the objectives of the EU's Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)
- interact with international initiatives such as CBD, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, GTI (Global Taxonomy Initiative), GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and DIVERSITAS.