New project to protect EU's tropical biodiversity

Preserving the biodiversity of the EU's tropical and sub-tropical regions is the goal of the newly launched NET-BIOME (NETworking tropical and subtropical Biodiversity research in OuterMost regions and territories of Europe in support of sustainable development) project, which is funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

The EU's outermost regions and overseas territories are home to a startling array of ecosystems and species; European marine areas include over 10% of the world's coral reefs, French Guyana has one of just 15 remaining low-fragmented forests and New Caledonia alone has as many endemic terrestrial species as the whole of continental Europe.

However, the biodiversity of these places, which are scattered across three oceans, faces numerous threats, including climate change, habitat loss and other pressures arising from human activities as well as natural hazards. At the same time, the biodiversity of these territories is key to their future economic development.

While the local authorities of these regions have funded research locally into how best to conserve this valuable resource, these efforts have been hampered by a lack of critical mass of researchers, poor access to facilities and the isolated nature of the regions.

The aim of the NET-BIOME project is to bring together research organisations and local authorities from five of these regions - La Réunion, New Caledonia, the Canary Islands, the Azores and the Cayman Islands - to identify common challenges and tackle them in a coordinated way.

The project is an ERA-NET initiative. ERA-NETs bring together funding agencies from different European countries to coordinate their activities and fund joint projects.

The project partners will develop and fund joint activities and promote the sharing of information and research results between researchers in the regions involved. Encouraging the mobility of researchers and ensuring access to infrastructures are additional goals of the project. Furthermore, the consortium will build links with researchers working on tropical biodiversity issues in third countries.

Eventually, this initiative will pave the way for a forthcoming European programme of research activities on tropical and subtropical biodiversity.

Further  information: