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IRBio with UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)

The Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona becomes official supporter of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030

#GENERATIONRESTORATION: it challenges to expand the restoration efforts of our degraded ecosystems.

As Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio), we are excited to announce that we became supporters of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  We are joining hundreds of other institutions that have responded to the call initiated by UNEP for the World Environment Day 2021. This year, this special day, which is celebrated every 5th of June, will officially launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Ecosystems support all life on Earth. The healthier ecosystems are, the healthier the planet and its people. The last decades saw the deterioration of all world ecosystems: human activities have caused the climate crisis and the nature crisis, with now one million species at risk of extinction. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aims at boosting actions to restore and preserve our planet, helping to end poverty, combat climate change, prevent a fauna and flora mass extinction, and allow next generations to be amazed and inspired by the beauty of nature while benefitting from its resources. It will only succeed if each one of us plays a part. We need to act now, to make peace with nature and support the changes needed to build back greener, in particular given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. We must act now to live in a better world for people and the planet in 10 years.
The Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio), entity led by Professor F. Xavier Sans, is made up by more than 200 experts, among academics, young researchers and collaborators, in several fields of research, ranging from genomes to ecosystems, through morphological, molecular, biogeographic, quantitative and bioinformatic approaches. IRBio promotes high quality research and boosts the social dissemination on the relevance of biodiversity and its presentation in order to raise awareness among society on these issues. Moreover, IRBio provides scientific advice on biodiversity and paleobiodiversity –at a management, assessment, education, legislation scale– to public administrations, private agencies and environmental organizations, and it works on technical reports on environmental issues.
Last year, IRBio joined the Global Coalition “United for Biodiversity”, initiative of the European Commission, calling on all world museums, national parks, research centers, universities, zoos, aquaria, and botanic gardens to join forces for nature. With the exhibitions, collections, with the research, education and conservation programmes, the Coalition is the best ambassadors to inform the public about the dramatic effects of the ecosystem’s degradation and the incredible power of restoration actions. There are currently more than 250 institutions in 51 countries urging world leaders to take urgent and ambitious measures at the crucial CoP 15 meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in China this autumn.  
Yet the CoP 15 is not the end of the fight. The next decade is the turning point for nature and for all of us. Now is the time for action. By announcing our support to the UN decade on ecosystem restoration today, we want to reinforce our commitment for nature and hope to inspire many. We pledge to engage our staff and communities in the common efforts to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide, through promoting activities and research education that engage citizens to ecosystems.

IRBio has expressed a strong commitment to preservation and protection of the environment while promoting research activities and social dissemination on the knowledge. Some of these activities are described below, such as the app RiuNet (http://www.ub.edu/fem/index.php/en/inici-riunet-en), developed by IRBio’s FEHM research group, mainly focused on Mediterranean rivers, worldwide recognized for being unique ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots and heavily impacted by human activities for millennia. This is an interactive education tool that will help citizens to assess the hydrological and ecological status of river ecosystems with two-fold goals. On one hand, citizens collect data that are used for improving research and contributing to management of rivers ecosystems. On the other hand, RiuNet offers simple knowledge about the different ecological elements of rivers and increase the awareness of citizens to the importance of river and biodiversity conservation.

Moreover, IRBio is also engaged in the monitoring of marine biodiversity at Marine Protected Areas in Catalonia (http://seguimentmari.cat/) in order to provide the essential information required for guide effective management and conservation actions in these protected areas. Since in some cases, only protection is not enough to recover marine biodiversity, IRBio’s MEDRECOVER research group have also developed successful restoration protocols for several marine habitat-forming species within the first European project dedicated to the restoration of marine ecosystems (http://www.merces-project.eu/). 

Also, IRBio is involved with ecological restoration of the mining activities generate temporary degraded spaces and can facilitate the functional integration of these areas into their environment. IRBio's research group collaborate with local schools in municipalities where there are mining operations, designing didactic units focused on the values of the restoration of degraded spaces. Students visit the quarry and studies related to vegetation and soil are carried out. The studies are related to the curricular contents and the quarry is their learning zone. Students help in the restoration of the quarry by planting trees and shrubs and learn to understand the need to restore ecosystems.
Besides, IRBio works in the functional role of biodiversity in agroecosystems providing ecosystems services (e.g. pollination and crop protection) within and around agricultural fields to develop ecologically, economically and socially sustainable cropping systems (https://www.ecostack-h2020.eu/). As well, IRBio’s Agroecology research group works in redesigning arable cropping systems to ensure food production while reducing the use of inputs and limiting the environmental impacts and the loss of biodiversity. Through of technical conferences, IRBio’s Agroecology research group disseminates and transfer knowledge to the peasantry.
Find out more about the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration here and have a look at the Ecosystem Restoration Playbook, a practical guide for all stakeholders to engage in restoration actions. Tag your social media posts with #GenerationRestoration and follow the movement!

Photo: Quarry Restoration in Campredó. Montserrat Jorba