Call for research proposals on biodiversity offsets The Swedish EPA aims to fund research with a focus on biodiversity offsets. The deadline for applications is the 15th of September 2017. svenska Share Contact Listen Fourteen of the sixteen Swedish Environmental Quality Objectives will not be reached by 2020 with the current planned measures. With this call the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (The Swedish EPA) and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) are aiming to fund research that increases our knowledge on biodiversity offsets. The goal is that offsetting will become a more effective method along the "Polluter Pays Principle", and that this will contribute to reaching the Environmental Quality Objectives relating to biological diversity and ecosystem services. The Swedish EPA invites organizations, individual researchers or research groups to submit applications addressing one of the three perspectives that are described under "Priorities". For perspective a and b, applications can request between 2-5 million SEK divided over 2-3 years (2018-2020). For perspective c applications can request a maximum of 2 million SEK divided over 2 years (2018-2019). The goal is to fund at least one project addressing each perspective. The Swedish EPA allocates a total of approximately 25 million SEK for this call. The deadline for applications is the 15th of September 2017. Challenges in the environmental work Biodiversity offsets are used very limited in Sweden today , but could contribute to limiting the losses of biological diversity and the ecosystem services that are upheld by the ecosystems. The Swedish EPA has in 2016 published guidance on how to apply the legal framework regarding offsets from the Swedish Environmental Code , and SwAM has in 2016 published guidance on how to use offseting to restore eelgrass habitats in marine environments . For biodiversity offsets to develop further into an effective tool in Sweden, for example in supervision aspects, more research and knowledge summaries are needed on if and when different offsetting methods are useful. In the Swedish setting there is a lack of knowledge on how biodiversity offsets work in large-scale projects, how biodiversity losses should be quantified, and methods for follow-up and evaluation. More work is also needed on how biodiversity offsets should be integrated into regional planning processes . A functioning system for biodiversity offsets could contribute to improve the prospects of reaching several of the Environmental Quality Objectives, for example A rich diversity of plant and animal life, A varied agricultural landscape, Thriving wetlands, Flourishing lakes and streams, A balanced marine environment, flourishing coastal areas and archipelagos, Sustainable forests and A magnificent mountain landscape, as well as some milestone targets including ecosystem services and threatened species.The purpose of this call is for the results to be useful in the development of biodiversity offsets in Sweden, which will be relevant for the Swedish EPA's and SwAM's work with (without any order of priority): The Swedish Environmental Code and its application Biological diversity and ecosystem services Outdoor recreational life Green infrastructure Protected nature areas More knowledge on biodiversity offsets would also be useful to other parties in society, for example other governmental agencies with responsibility for landscape planning and for industries such as agriculture, fisheries etcetera. Priorities Biodiversity offsets concerns complex interactions and processes. To handle this in practice, simplifications are required. In addition, the focus easily lands on existing solutions instead of on trying innovative ideas. This all contributes to the risk of losing biological diversity. In this call, the Swedish EPA and SwAM wants these challenges addressed focusing on the three perspectives a, b and c described further down. The goal of the agencies is to fund at least one project on each perspective. An official report of the Swedish government on biodiversity offsets has recently been presented. . It is important that applications take this report into consideration, and continue the work where it left off. Both terrestrial and aquatic environments should be considered in the applications, and well as transition zones, for example between land and water. We welcome subject-specific applications in this call, and the Swedish EPA and SwAM will follow the projects with the goal of making interdisciplinary links between them. We also encourage researchers to work together with the relevant actors in society in the projects. It is important that the relevance to the Swedish EPA and SwAM is clear in the application. The results should be pedagogically presented to the relevant target groups. Researchers that are granted funds will be expected to participate in the yearly research day of the Swedish EPA, any yearly meeting with the other projects funded by the call, as well as put resources aside to interact with governmental agencies and other target groups. For more information on these aspects, see "Guidelines for research communication", on the website with the instructions on how to apply. Instructions on how to apply We are looking for research projects that contribute to an increased knowledge on biodiversity offsets from three perspectives: a, b and c below. Applicants should limit their application to one of the three perspectives in their application. a) Designing asystem for biodiversity offsets: How can a Swedish system for biodiversity offsets be developed that in a cost-efficient way steers towards reducing the loss of biological diversity, and stimulates the correct use of the mitigation hierarchy. What design- or implementation-aspects are important to consider in a Swedish setting to ensure that the offsets are ecologically relevant, cost-effective and socially fair? We want research projects where the following questions are in focus: For efficient control and target fulfilment: how are the boundaries established for the flexibility of the system regarding what can be offset and when. How is it decided what (ecologically) and who (actors in society) should be encompassed by the system? Incentives for long-term fulfilment: How can a system be designed so that it ensures the longevity of the offsetting and at the same time has low costs? How effective is biodiversity offsets relative to other possible measures that aim to reduce the loss of biological diversity? How is additionality safeguarded in biodiversity offsets? b) Method development: Which ecological methods and technical solutions are possible to use for biodiversity offsets, in the context of different pressures on different natural environments? We seek research projects with examples from restoration ecology and innovative natural or nature-imitating solutions. When developing methods, important aspects include relevance for Swedish environments as well as practical and economical usefulness. The researchers need to work integrated with the proposed final users of the methods. The following questions are of interest: How can existing methods from other countries be adapted to suit Swedish circumstances? How robust are the offsetting methods over longer time scales, and how much maintenance do they require? What damage (on biological diversity and ecosystem services) can potentially be offset with a specific measure? What aspects of biological diversity and ecosystem services are excluded in different methods for quantifying the damage and the effect of the offsetting measure? How could an alternative method be designed? c) In-depth understanding: Biological diversity is an effect of a diversity of interactions on several levels and scales. Therefore, and increased knowledge of ecological patterns, processes and links is central to a relevant design of offsetting measures. We seek a synthesis analysis that can give guidance on when and where the use of biodiversity offsets is possible, based on fundamental ecological perspectives. The goal for an offsetting measure can be species, groups of species, habitats and/or ecosystem services. An important part of the synthesis analysis is to, with the support of ecological theory and observations, explain and try to predict which patterns of species and ecological functions including ecosystem services are possible to recreate. Examples of key concepts that are connected to the matter are succession, disruption, dynamics, restoration, resilience, alpha and beta diversity, interactions within and between species, novel ecosystems, genetic variation and evolutionary adaptation. "Synthesis analysis" refers to a summary of the current state of knowledge in the field, along with a conclusive analysis. A description of different types of ecosystems and the possibility to use biodiversity offsets for them should also be included. Suggestions should be given for which ecological factors should be considered, both locally and from a landscape-ecological perspective. The synthesis should also identify knowledge gaps for future research, and discuss how these gaps affect policy decisions.The following questions are of interest: Which ecological factors are hallmarks of ecosystems that can be offset, as opposed to those where offsetting is difficult or impossible? Which qualities and life history- strategies are hallmarks of species that can be adapted, or not adapted, to novel ecosystems? How can climate change affect ecological patterns, processes and functions connected to offsetting measures? Which sensitivity does novel ecosystems have when it comes to the delivery of different ecosystem services? And which potential ecosystem services could be lost a damage is compensated for? How could the pattern of the landscape, its dynamics and history influence the relevance and efficiency of offsetting measures? How is the succession and dynamics different between original and created environments and how can this influence the success of the design of the offsetting measure? Which time-scale aspects are there for maintaining/recreating natural values and how are these different for specific ecosystems? And on which spatial scales do these operate? Who can apply? The main applicant must hold a PhD and conduct research at universities, colleges, research institutes, or government agencies carrying out research as part of its mandate. "Research institute" refers to organizations that have research as their sole or principal part of their mandate. The main applicant should be affiliated with a Swedish organization with a Swedish corporate identity number ("organisationsnummer"). Instructions for applicants Instructions for applicants Application portal Timeline for the call 15th of September 2017: Deadline for applications 1st of December 2017: Funding decision 1st of January 2018: Project starts Responsible officer Kerstin Jansbo E-mail: Kerstin.Jansbo@naturvardsverket.se Telephone: +46 8-698 14 56  Additionality: that ecological compensation leads to a positive impact on biological diversity, in addition to the development that would have occurred in the absence of the compensation measure. See reference .  Success in the meaning: positive effects on the values of biological diversity that are at stake References Naturvårdsverket (2015), Tillämpning av miljöbalkens bestämmelser om ekologisk kompensation, rapport 6667, Naturvårdsverket ISBN 978-91-620-6667-3. Naturvårdsverket (2016). Ekologisk kompensation – En vägledning om kompensation vid förlust av naturvärden, Handbok 2016:1, Naturvårdsverket ISBN 978-91-620- 0179-7 Havs- och Vattenmyndigheten (2016) Kompensationsrestaurering av ålgräs i Sverige. En vägledning. Enetjärn et al., (2015), Environmental compensation - Key conditions for increased and cost effective application. TemaNord 2015:572, ISSN 0908-6692 Offentlig utredning kring ekologisk kompensation, SOU 2017:34, Sverige Additional background material Restaurering av ålgräsångar, forskningsprogrammet Zorro samt Havs- och Vattenmyndighetens vägledningar i ämnet: Moksnes P-O, Gipperth L, Eriander L, Laas K, Cole S, Infantes E. 2016. Havs- och Vattenmyndigheten, Rapport nummer 2016:8, ISBN 978-91-87967-16-0. Moksnes P-O, Gipperth L, Eriander L, Laas K, Cole S, Infantes E. 2016. Handbok för restaurering av ålgräs i Sverige – Vägledning. Havs- och Vattenmyndigheten, Rapport nummer 2016:9, ISBN 978-91-87967-17-7 (pdf, digital version), ISBN 978-91-87967-27-6 (tryckt version). Biodiversity Offsets EFFECTIVE DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION (2014) OECD policy highlights. Enetjärn Natur (2015) Habitat Banking - framtider för marknadsbaserade lösningar för biologisk mångfald 2030 Study on specific design elements of biodiversity offsets: Biodiversity metrics and mechanisms for securing long term conservation benefits (2013) EU DG Environment: Env.B2/ETU/2013/0060r Biodiversity offsetting in England (2013) DEFRA green paper, UK. Bull et al., (2013) Biodiversity offsets in theory and practice, Fauna & Flora International, doi:10.1017/S003060531200172X Persson, Jesper, ed. (2014), Miljökompensation vid väg- och järnvägsprojekt. Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Rapport, ISBN 978-91-87117-85-5. Hahn et al., (2015), Purposes and degrees of commodification: Economic instruments for biodiversity and ecosystem services need not rely on markets or monetary valuation. Ecosystem Services 16: 74–82.