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European overseas, new frontier for biodiversity research?

Azevedo J., Dwyer E., Hoetjes P., Sierra S., Villagarcia M., Feldmann P., Irissin-Managata J., Figueiredo S.. 2015. In : Visconti P. (ed.), Game E. (ed.), Mathevet R. (ed.), Wilkerson M. (ed.). Proceedings of the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology and 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology " Mission biodiversity: choosing new paths for conservation". Washington DC : SCB, p. 35-35. International Congress for Conservation Biology. 27, 2015-08-02/2015-08-06, Montpellier (France).

The European Overseas Areas are strategically positioned to become a strong focus of biodiversity research in support of sustainable development. In fact, they constitute a complex geopolitical entity extending Europe's presence across the globe, incorporating all ecosystems and oceans from the tropics to the poles. Europe's overseas are mainly islands (most of them located in Biodiversity Hotspots), but also include French Guyana, one of the least disturbed areas of rain forest on Earth. Fulfilling European international commitments, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, will require special consideration to its overseas areas. This has started to be expressed in the scope of policy instruments, such as the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and funding mechanisms, such as the LIFE+ fund, the BEST Initiative or H2020. The immense diversity of biogeographical settings and the different levels of human pressure encompassed by Europe's Overseas areas allows the testing of comparison-based hypothesis, linking patterns to processes. This unique advantage makes them an ideal setting for biodiversity research of both global significance and local relevance. Such research, however, can only be accomplished through an extensive supporting network. This is where the European FP7 funded NetBiome partnership is making a unique contribution. NetBiome is a consortium of entities from knowledge institutions, business, government and civil society, dedicated to the mobilization of stakeholders to identify and address priority challenges in reconciling conservation of (sub)tropical biodiversity with the sustainable development of Europe's regions and territories, based on the benefits from high biodiversity. Seven international research projects are currently being funded through NetBiome, and the research recommendations under preparation will feed a second call in the near future.

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