Europe's environment is in an alarming state, with climate change expected to further aggravate the situation. This substantially threatens economic prosperity, human wellbeing and social peace. Our society and economy need systemic transformative change, and ecosystem restoration integrated into nature-based solutions lies at its heart. MERLIN (Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: Innovation, upscaling and transformation) is a 4-year Innovation Action project (funded by the EU) which aims to support transformative ecosystem restoration. The project will work in 17 flagship projects, from Finland to Israel, in order to generate a blueprint to implement, upscale and replicate restoration and nature based solutions in freshwater ecosystems. MERLIN brings together 44 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes, nature conservation organizations, and stakeholders from business, government, and municipalities.
MERLIN has the following objectives:
- To demonstrate the most successful European case studies and set the framework for future systemic restoration approaches.
- To implement innovative restoration measures to further upscale the successful case studies and to embed them into the surrounding landscape.
- To upscale freshwater-related ecosystem restoration, by identifying the mechanisms and removing the obstacles for large-scale systemic upscaling across Europe.
- To transform restoration by co-developing and implementing strategies with communities, specific economic sectors and IPBES/IPCC for enhanced implementation of restoration and nature-based solutions to maximise synergies and to limit trade-offs.
- To enhance restoration efforts and effectiveness by co-developing a range of tools designed for different target audiences, contributing to the upscaling of restoration. The project establishes a learning platform MERLIN Academy and the MERLIN marketplace where restoration actors can connect, restoration-related services are offered, and restoration financing is brokered.
Ecologic Institute in MERLIN
Ecologic Institute co-leads WP3, which aims to promote the Europe-wide upscaling of ecosystem restoration by replicating best-practice restoration measures to restore resilient and healthy ecosystems, demonstrating restoration benefits for biodiversity and associated key ecosystem services, as well as characterising and exploiting investment opportunities for implementing these measures in selected areas. Ecologic Institute focuses on the economic and financing components of upscaling restoration, with the following work objectives:
- To conduct a socio-economic assessment of the benefits of restoration and ecosystem services associated with the implementation of nature based solutions and restoration measures
- To characterise investment needs for upscaling restoration in case studies and assess the suitability of existing funding and financing from public and private sources
- To develop investment planning guidelines and design and pilot financing solutions for upscaling restoration in the selected basins