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Biodiversity: A New Deal for Nature

Biodiversity makes life possible. It nurtures us, provides umpteen health benefits and even offers many opportunities for jobs and economic growth (tourism, green technologies, conservation efforts etc.). Whether it be a pristine sandy coast with crystal clear water, a windswept and wild Brontean moor, a tropical rainforest bursting with life or even your local park at the end of your street, humans exist in a complex and increasingly fragile symbiotic relationship with the nature and biodiversity all around us.

“Biodiversity starts in the distant past and it points towards the future” – Frans Lanting, National Geographic photographer

Before COVID-19 rocked the world, biodiversity protection, conservation and of course, climate change, were constantly at the top of the global agenda. Once the current crisis has ended, it’s a good bet that these issues will grow again in prominence. Perhaps there will even be new angles of debate and analysis on these topics that weren’t so highly considered before – for without a doubt, when the dust has settled on the current crisis, many scientists, policy-makers and citizens may be all too happy to discuss how far our current relationship with our natural surroundings contributed to the rise and mushrooming of the pandemic. After all, one of the strongest theories put forward on the origins of the novel coronavirus (but important to note, still to be fully verified by researchers at the time of writing) is that it jumped from bats to humans via an intermediary animal host, possibly the highly endangered pangolin, in late November 2019 in a popular and crowded wet market in Wuhan that was teeming with many, many different forms of animal life, both dead and alive. Moreover, even without the added dimension brought so suddenly to the table by SARS-CoV-2, how humanity reframes its relationship with the natural world over the coming years, particularly with regards to habitat and biodiversity preservation, was always going to be a crucial transition that would define the history of the 21st century. Healthy ecosystems offer a vital ingredient in the fight against climate change but are currently threatened by urban sprawl, pollution, intensive agriculture and deforestation, amongst others. The EU is committed to healthy ecosystems and biodiversity preservation, both within Europe and worldwide. EU legislation, such as the Birds Directive and Habitats Directive, forms the backbone of EU biodiversity policy, with vital schemes such as the Natura 2000 network of protected areas also being a prominent piece of its wider strategy. The EU also supports biodiversity research through the Horizon 2020 programme and as our seven featured projects highlight, many different angles are being covered. These include one project framing conservation through the lens of security policy, another advocating innovative ideas to reconcile urbanisation with nature, and a third encouraging far-reaching transnational cooperation in the field of biodiversity protection. Suffice to say, all of the researchers we interviewed for this special feature are absolutely dedicated to advancing knowledge, developing strategies and pushing best practices that will truly help deliver a ‘New Deal’ between humanity and the natural world. We have one additional present for you….how about getting to hear three of these researchers discussing their exciting projects together? All you need to do is check out our CORDIScovery podcast episode on biodiversity. And if you like what you hear, then please do subscribe to the podcast and spread the word! We look forward to receiving your feedback. You can send questions or suggestions to editorial@cordis.europa.eu.

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