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ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network

Europe’s ecosystem research network


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European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC)


ECNC is an independent European expertise centre for biodiversity and sustainable development, working in over 60 European and Central Asian countries, and supporting various global processes.

ECNC Vision

The ECNC vision concerns the desired state in 25 years of Europe’s biodiversity and nature, landscapes, seas and coastal areas and how these elements are integrated into society, policy, economy and science. ECNC envisages a Europe and world in which:

  • the ecological coherence and resilience of natural and semi-natural terrestrial and marine ecosystems ensures the maintenance of a large diversity of habitats and species and accommodates for adapting to changes in land use and climate;
  • the level of appreciation and awareness of the general public, policy makers, land managers, NGOs, entrepreneurs, and experts regarding Europe’s biodiversity and nature, seas and coastal zones guarantees their integration in relevant decision-making at all geographical and inter-sectorial levels;
  • biodiversity, ecosystem services, nature and landscapes, seas and coastal areas are fully acknowledged and valued as vital parts for economy, culture and local and regional identify;
  • international, national, regional and local policies for Europe’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and nature, landscapes and seas and coastal zones are comprehensive, coherent, strong and integrated into the mainstream of political decision-making.


ECNC Mission

ECNC is dedicated to a beautiful and sustainable Europe based on a rich biodiversity, healthy ecosystems and sustainable development. ECNC promotes an integrated approach for both land and sea and actively stimulates the interaction between science, society and policy. ECNC provides a bridge between policy and science and society on the one hand, and ecology and economy on the other, allowing us to strongly contribute to greener and more resource efficient economies.

An essential component of ECNC’s activities in support of our mission is the involvement of and cooperation with a range of stakeholders. These include policymakers (from international to local levels), science and research, business and entrepreneurs, land managers, financing and banking, and civil society organizations.

We work intensively with intergovernmental and supranational organizations and processes, in particular the European Union, its Commission and member states, as well as with the European Environment Agency, the Council of Europe and the European office of the United Nations Environment Programme. We have strong working relationships with many other organizations too, such as IUCN and REC-Regional Environmental Center.

ECNC is a non-profit foundation and consists of four closely interacting bodies: the Board provides leadership and legitimacy to ECNC’s operations. It includes persons with considerable experience in international cooperation from various European countries and international organizations. The Scientific Council is composed of scientific experts who monitor and give advice on the quality of ECNC’s activities. The Network of currently 53 partners in 29 countries is an important pool of expertise. The partners, consisting of university departments, expert centres, government agencies and NGOs sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to help achieve the ECNC mission. The Secretariat is the coordinating body of ECNC, and consists of an international, dynamic team of dedicated people.

ECNC has run or contributed to over 260 projects since its establishment in 1993, in nearly every part of Europe and in various cases spanning the entire continent.

Together with the Coastal & Marine Union (EUCC), ECNC has formed an integrated organization, the ECNC Group. The ECNC Group covers terrestrial as well as coastal and marine issues regarding biodiversity and sustainable development in Europe. This integration expands the ECNC Group membership to over 2,500 experts in Europe. The ECNC Group brings ECNC a wider range of expertise, a bigger pool of highly professional staff, larger networks and more project opportunities.

ECNC coordinates or is part of a number of other important European networks. For example:

  • Being a consortium member of the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity gives ECNC a firm role in delivering biodiversity information to the European Environment Agency and EU institutions.
  • As a party to ALTER-Net (A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network), ECNC is directly connected to the most important and influential European biodiversity research institutions.
  • Through our participation in the EU Coordination Group on Biodiversity and Nature we have a direct say in EU biodiversity policy development.
  • As a member of the European Habitats Forum we join other European environmental NGO in their dialogue with the European Commission.


ECNC offers unique products and services

  • Biodiversity knowledge and expertise: a key asset of ECNC and its staff, we provide expertise on all aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe, including research, conservation, and policy. We have the unique ability to integrate a range of disciplines from social and natural sciences.
  • Digesting science for policy and society: as a biodiversity science-policy interface ECNC translates policy documents and needs into research questions and communicates science outcomes into policy advice.
  • Stakeholder involvement: ECNC applies participatory techniques to stimulate involvement into biodiversity matters of all groups in society (such as business, education, science, policy, civil society, and local communities).
  • Knowledge-based facilitation: ECNC staff is trained and experienced in applying a variety of facilitation techniques based on biodiversity knowledge, getting the best out of meetings and stakeholders, covering a range of European languages.
  • Communication and public awareness: ECNC offers targeted and customized solutions to communicate biodiversity with various audiences.
  • Biodiversity for business and rural and urban development: ECNC’s approach towards the business sector focuses on identifying pro-biodiversity business opportunities and engaging small and medium-sized businesses into biodiversity and greening the economy.
  • Policy analysis and advice: ECNC offers expert advice and knowledge in support of the implementation and translation of international biodiversity policy at local and regional levels. ECNC staff is skilled in policy review, synthesis and analysis.
  • Capacity building and training programmes: Based on knowledge and experiences all over Europe, ECNC strengthens biodiversity capacity and skills of various stakeholder groups through tailor-made training sessions and learning networks.
  • Project development, coordination and implementation: as a project- and activity-based organization, ECNC has unique experience in biodiversity project cycle management from local to international levels.
  • Customized meeting organization: ECNC is an experienced organizer of a wide variety of biodiversity meetings, from small workshops to large-scale conferences and fairs, working with local partners anywhere in Europe.
  • Journal for Nature Conservation: in affiliation with ECNC, Elsevier publishes this scientific journal that focuses on interdisciplinary research for biodiversity, with a focus on Europe.


ECNC is a European expertise centre

ECNC staff and projects cover a wide range of expertise and knowledge, including: Ecological networks; protected areas; conflict management; biodiversity indicators; biodiversity monitoring; biodiversity integration into economic sectors; data processing; reporting; community involvement; local biodiversity action plans; business & biodiversity; ecosystem services; agro-biodiversity; biodiversity policy; regional development; Natura 2000; science-policy interface; climate change; biodiversity financing; invasive alien species; wilderness; large herbivores; natural processes; species action plans.

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