Research approach

GreeNet’s overarching objective is to develop transition pathways for sustainable management of European grasslands under combined land sparing and land sharing approaches at landscape level, prototyping novel ways to develop and maintain protected landscapes. The participatory approach will create a positive vision in favour of protected landscapes. A long-term impact will result from conservation management options (including the management of ecological networks), conservation incentive schemes and adaptive governance strategies at landscape scale developed for and validated by regional stakeholders and national and European policy representatives.

GreeNet is an inter- and transdisciplinary research project. The figure summarises GreeNet’s conceptual and participatory framework. Information sourcing and data generation with reviews support the definition and specification and quantification of conservation targets, conservation managements, incentive schemes and governance strategies. Remote sensing and machine learning generates and complements case study data. Indicators and models assess the biodiversity and ES effects, costs of conservation managements as well as corresponding incentive schemes and governance options at field and landscape level. GreeNet case study results will be synthesised to develop a tool and concept box mainly directed to agri-environmental and nature protection policy planners.

Work packages

WP1 Project & outreach management

WP1 will establish effective mechanisms for planning, coordination and monitoring of the project activities, internal communication, data management, and the stakeholder process. We will ensure achievement of the project objectives, milestones, deliverables, and reporting and will coordinate the participation in joint activities of the international research programme.

WP2 Basic knowledge on grassland conservation

WP2 shall guarantee a comprehensive knowledge base available early in the project to both researcher and stakeholders. WP2 will support the case study work and shall allow to anchor the analyses in joint and standard metrics.

WP2 will review regional grassland conservation targets by identifying regional multifunctional target systems, including landscape and grassland conservation targets, ecosystem services demands as well as management targets together with regional stakeholders. Another review on conservation management options is based on the scientific literature and consults regional experts to develop a catalogue of conservation management options and its ecological and economic effects at field and landscape scales. In WP2 we will review the scientific literature for incentive schemes and governance strategies that support landscape scale cooperation and coordination within and outside protected areas. The resulting catalogue will provide an overview of incentive schemes (e.g. social norms with information, labels, agri-environmental policy measures) for biodiversity and ecosystem protection that enable long-term conservation outcomes. The review addresses interactions between schemes and power constellations e.g., between farmers and authorities in the different governance strategies. Finally, WP2 will develop participatory global change scenario, i.e. scenario narratives and input data to parameterize the economic models in WP4.

WP3 Ecological indicators, tools & data

WP3 will support the analysis of biodiversity and ecosystem service impacts from changes in CM in all case study regions. It aims to adapt and develop scientific methods in collaboration with stakeholders that are well documented, partly generic and shared among the project partners and the scientific community.

WP3 will develop and apply innovative remote sensing and machine learning methods at all protected area case studies using local biodiversity and management datasets as ground-truth for calibration. The primary output will be maps of grassland extent and spatial configuration, management intensity and productivity. In another task, regionally adapted sets of ecological indicators will be developed and selected from landscape to field to species level. All indicators will be processed, aggregated and communicated as “metrics for conservation success” to support the sustainable usage, conservation, development and management of species rich grassland systems in and outside protected areas. In WP3, we will adapt and apply the Viva Grass tool to link spatial data sources (grassland type training data from each protected area case study, grassland type maps, target lists, reference and scenario land use maps) and their site potential (site factor maps).

WP4 Socio-economic assessment

WP4 simulates farmers’ uptake and optimal compositions and configurations of conservation management options to better understand the effects of incentive schemes on biodiversity protection, ecosystem services management, and farm income.

WP4 will use literature reviews and surveys to improve the knowledge on farmers’ attitudes, preferences, and constraints with a special focus on the uptake of landscape scale conservation management options. We will study farmers’ attitudes regarding potential barriers and incentive schemes to overcome them. In WP4 we will adapt and apply country-specific bio-economic farm models (BEFM) to quantify the costs of farm and landscape scale conservation management options and to assess their uptake under various incentive schemes. Finally, WP4 will adapt a policy planning model at landscape scale. The model will be calibrated with results from the BEFM and the Viva Grass model in the case studies to deliver cost-effective spatially-explicit allocations of conservation management and grass-land-related payments for ecosystem services.

WP5 Synthesis & up- and outscaling

WP5 synthesises integrated case study results from WP3 & 4 to draw general conclusions for the case studies and other grassland regions in Europe. We will reveal the potentials of governance strategies to strengthen landscape scale management and to overcome conservation management implementation challenges.

Re-integration and synthesis of case study knowledge with the literature and within the context of experiences from similar Life and Biodiversa projects shall support the transfer, adaptation or further development of the developed participatory approach. Best practices will be formulated with a particular focus on conservation management options, supportive tools, incentive schemes and promising governance strategies. Participatory assessment of landscape scale governance strategies in GreeNet focuses on success factors and barriers to implementation and transfer and formulation of best practices. Finally, GreeNet’s ambition is to provide a generic tool and concept box that supports policy planning, monitoring and evaluation at European level.