National Biodiversity Future Centre (NBFC) focuses on the Mediterranean area (biodiversity hotspot) and addresses global challenges related to the protection and restoration of marine, coastal, transitional and terrestrial ecosystems: in particular, NBFC carries out research and promotes the development of practices for monitoring, conservation, valorisation and restoration of the biodiversity, including genetic and functional aspects, in order to counter the effects of anthropogenic impact and climate change and to support ecosystem services. At the same time, NBFC supports research and innovation activities for the enhancement of biodiversity through processes of circular economy and restoration ecology and economy, with the primary objective of protecting the resources provided by ecosystems and at the same time ensuring the quality of personal well-being.
Ecosystems are rapidly shifting to new ecological states. Achieving effective conservation of biodiversity has become challenging because of both global and local stressors and continuous shifts in national and international policies. The NBFC has been conceived to move forward the conservation of the Italian biodiversity assets and to put them on the road to recovery by 2030, thus reaching the targets set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy. This will be achieved through: (1) Improving the knowledge about the state of biodiversity across different biodiversity levels. This effort will support the development of priorities and planning scenarios to improve protection regimes at species/habitat level within protected areas (PAs sensu lato; e.g. fully and partially protected areas, national parks, regional parks/reserves), Natura 2000 Sites, Other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) (e.g fisheries restricted areas FRAs) and in currently unprotected areas of conservation interest (i.e. enlarging the coverag of protected areas to 30%, with 10% under strict protection regimes); and also in urban and periurban area promoting biodiversity conservation and connection with parks and protected areas (2) Strengthening an effective network of the already existing PAs through innovative approaches of data collection, labelling, and analysis, with the support of key enabling technologies (i.e. Artificial Intelligence, new technologies applied to monitoring); (3) Integrating the human dimension and the effects of climate change into existing protection frameworks. One of the first important goals of NBFC is the definition of suitable conservation strategies for different national areas. Specifically, the goal of conservation actions are to secure the maintaining of biological diversity at the genetic, species, population, and ecosystem levels also in response to abiotic, biotic and anthropogenic stressors. Among all its activities NBFC is producing maps and models, prioritising sites for consolidated monitoring, and providing, at the end of the project, an overview of high-level recommendations for land, sea and urban areas. Specific projects have been developed to improve the biodiversity knowledge in terms of identification and characterization of the taxa present in the area under study. Conservation of biodiversity should be upscaled at an ecosystem level. In this context it is necessary both to develop adequate tools for investigations and to assess ecosystem response to biodiversity conservation. Research and innovation are aimed at developing new tools together with the application of strategies for the conservation and the management of biodiversity in the national context also in relation to local environmental settings, territorial criticalities and the guidelines in force.
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