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Data and technologies for the inventory, fast identification and monitoring of endangered wildlife and other species groups

The EU biodiversity strategy contains concrete objectives to protect and restore biodiversity and to address the main pressures and threats to biodiversity. In order to achieve these objectives, basic research is needed to better understand, monitor, observe and manage biodiversity, including in protected areas. Such knowledge is also indispensable to support the protection and restoration of natural capital and ecosystems.

Better, accessible and FAIR[[FAIR data principles: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable]] data on species, biodiversity and ecosystems will also help to ensure that biodiversity preservation is a mainstream feature of other sectors, such as agriculture, transport, energy or the bioeconomy. There is a need for systemic and standardised biodiversity data on the ground in order to build up our knowledge on the status and trends of habitats and species and ecosystems, and on the drivers of decline.

Monitoring needs to be of better quality, greater relevance and more cost-effective. This is to be achieved by, among other things, developing, testing and implementing new (long-term) approaches that make use of recent technological advances and existing data from multiple origins (e.g. observation data, remote sensing, DNA technologies, big data analysis, AI, deep learning, historical records, use of citizen science and volunteer expert data).

Projects should develop, test and implement enabling tools, technologies and fast identification methodologies to produce and integrate data, knowledge and models on the conservation status of species and habitats, with a focus on those covered by the Birds and Habitats Directives. Projects should also help to develop an integrated European biodiversity monitoring system, in collaboration with the initiatives and projects mentioned below. There needs to be a particular focus on to those species and habitats, for which knowledge gaps still exist, and on those prioritised for conservation action in line with the EU biodiversity strategy 2030, such as pollinators, sea birds, marine mammals, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, bats, mosses, lichens, wetlands, coastal and marine areas, grasslands, mires, bogs and fens, heathland and shrubs.

The biogeographical approach of the Natura 2000 network needs to be taken into account. If the proposal addresses the pollinator-related outcomes, projects should produce an inventory of pollinator species through integrative taxonomy, and bridge taxonomic gaps by developing tools (field guides, identification keys, national reference collections and checklists, European online ID platform, image recognition/apps, digitalised collections, etc.) for bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.

Projects should contribute their data to the Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity[[The EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity (KCBD) is an action of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030. It aims to enhance the knowledge base, facilitate its sharing and foster cross-sectorial policy dialogue for EU policy making in biodiversity and related fields. ]] and earmark the necessary resources for cooperation with the Centre; projects should also promote synergies with the European co-funded partnership on biodiversity[[]] (HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-02-01) and its activities. Cooperation is also expected with other relevant projects and initiatives, such as EUROPABON[[]] which was awarded funding under the call ‘SC5-33-2020: Monitoring ecosystems through research, innovation and technology’, or with projects resulting from this specific call as well as other EU-funded calls. Strong collaboration and networking is expected with the future taxonomy CSA resulting from topic HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-01-02: ‘Building taxonomic research capacity near biodiversity hotspots and for protected areas by networking natural history museums and other taxonomic facilities’.