CCI’s Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme receives $72 million gift for ecosystem restoration across Europe

8th October 2023

Photo: Gavin Holder.

The generous gift from the Arcadia Fund will support the third phase of the Programme, taking the Arcadia Fund’s total support to over $138 million. The new funding will allow the Programme to expand its support to partners across Europe to deliver ambitious, inspiring, large-scale restoration projects that now cover vital seascapes as well as landscapes. To reflect this exciting expansion, the programme has been retitled the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme.

From the vast grassland steppes of Georgia to the steep river gorges of the Iberian highlands and the coastal waters off the Solent, current restoration efforts supported by the Programme extend over 150,000 hectares.

“The Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme has become a vibrant network of nature-restoration projects and practitioners across Europe. We are inspired by the commitment of the projects’ teams, and are grateful to them, to the programme’s panel and to the coordinating team, for their invaluable role in realising the programme’s vision.”

– Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, founders of Arcadia

Project partners are reintroducing keystone species like bison, beaver, hamsters, oysters, water voles, and wild horses to reinstate the ecosystem services they provide and to rebuild food webs. Projects have also been removing dams, reconnecting vital wetland networks, restoring native broadleaf woodlands, and rewetting mires and peatlands that have long suffered from drainage due to forestry and agriculture practices. These restoration efforts are rejuvenating areas which were once flourishing with biodiversity, breathing life back into landscapes devastated by human activity.

The comeback of wildlife can help restore ecosystem function by reviving the interactions between the species and their habitat. Photo: Wild Intrigue.

The damage inflicted upon these ecosystems has far-reaching consequences for our planet, affecting climate stability, biodiversity, water regulation, and the overall resilience of ecosystems in the face of climate change. The restoration efforts begin to address these pressing issues and provide a beacon of hope for the future.

“It is now widely accepted that reversing the damage humans have done to our natural landscapes and seas is vital for our future prosperity. With this magnificent gift from Arcadia, the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme can increase investment in projects that help restore ecosystems on a large scale.”

– Professor Deborah Prentice, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge

The new funding includes over $30 million dedicated specifically to efforts to restore Europe’s seas. The funding will include support for up to eight new seascape restoration projects.

Since its onset in 2017, the programme has made huge strides forward for landscape and seascape restoration in Europe. Photo: Andrey Nekrasov.

Seas regulate the Earth’s climate, generate oxygen, and provide livelihoods and food for hundreds of millions of people. But Europe’s seas are suffering from pollution, biodiversity loss, seabed damage, overfishing, underwater noise, ocean warming, acidification, and spread of invasive species.

In the EU, 46% of coastal waters suffer from eutrophication – a process that causes excessive plant and algae growth leading to oxygen depletion, and 79% of the coastal seabed is disturbed due to bottom trawling.

“Restoring ecosystems at scale is urgent if we are to address the linked biodiversity and climate emergencies. This new funding from Arcadia will allow a significant expansion of the projects supported by the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme.

It’s especially exciting that we will now be able to fund more projects focused on Europe’s seas, where many habitats are in poor condition and species are in decline. Experience shows that with the right interventions, marine ecosystems can recover.”

– Dr David Thomas, Director of the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme

Natural ecosystems are essential for supporting life on Earth, and the impact of human activities on these ecosystems carries significant consequences to our lives and well-being.

Governments around the world have committed to restoring ecosystems and biodiversity. This new funding provides provide a much-needed boost for the delivery of targets set by the Global Biodiversity Framework and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 

As we address the challenges posed by environmental degradation, this funding offers support to restore Europe’s lands and seas and build towards a more resilient future.

Find out more about CCI’s Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme here.