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Call: Let nature help do the job: Rewilding landscapes for carbon sequestration, climate adaptation and biodiversity support

Acronym HE-CL5-D1
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 1: Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality"

Europe has been at the forefront of climate science and should retain its leadership position to support EU policies as well as international efforts for a global uptake of climate action in line with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including biodiversity objectives. Advancing climate science and further broadening and deepening the knowledge base is essential to inform the societal transition towards a climate neutral and climate resilient society by 2050, as well as towards a more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030. It will involve research that furthers our understanding of past, present and expected future changes in climate and its implications on ecosystems and society, closing knowledge gaps, and develops the tools that support policy coherence and the implementation of effective mitigation and adaptation solutions. Due to the inherent international character of this subject, international collaboration is encouraged for topics under this destination.

The activities implemented under this section will enable the transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy through improving the knowledge of the Earth system and the ability to predict and project its changes under different natural and socio-economic drivers, including a better understanding of society’s response and behavioural changes, and allowing a better estimation of the impacts of climate change and the design and evaluation of solutions and pathways for climate change mitigation and adaptation and related social transformation.

This Destination contributes directly to the Strategic Plan’s Key Strategic Orientation C ”Making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy through the transformation of its mobility, energy, construction and production systems” and the impact area “Climate change mitigation and adaptation”.

In line with the Strategic Plan, the overall expected impact of this Destination is to contribute to the “Transition to a climate-neutral and resilient society and economy enabled through advanced climate science, pathways and responses to climate change (mitigation and adaptation) and behavioural transformations”, notably through:

  1. Advancing knowledge and providing solutions in the any of following areas: Earth system science; pathways to climate neutrality; climate change adaptation including climate services; social science for climate action; and better understanding of climate-ecosystems interactions.
  2. Contributing substantially to key international assessments such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the European Environment Agency (e.g. European environment state and outlook reports, SOER).
  3. Strengthening the European Research Area on climate change.
  4. Increasing the transparency, robustness, trustworthiness and practical usability of the knowledge base on climate change for use by policy makers, practitioners, other stakeholders and citizens.

Coordination and synergies between activities supported under Destination 1, as well as in other Destinations and Clusters, and in particular complementarities with Cluster 4 and Cluster 6 should be taken into account by planning for adequate resources for co-ordination and clustering activities. Following a systemic approach, Destination 1 concentrates on activities related to climate science and modelling, whereas Cluster 6 supports R&I in the areas covered by Cluster 6, notably on the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions.

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Let nature help do the job: Rewilding landscapes for carbon sequestration, climate adaptation and biodiversity support
Description of call
"Let nature help do the job: Rewilding landscapes for carbon sequestration, climate adaptation and biodiversity support"

Expected Outcome

  • Contribution to IPBES and IPCC, to the achievement of objectives of reaching net zero carbon emissions, enhancing climate change adaptation, and to the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
  • Support the implementation of the Horizon Europe Mission on Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation.
  • Identify low cost/benefit ratio options to restore natural and semi-natural ecosystems for carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation.
  • Assess the value of restoring ecosystem for adaptation to and/or mitigation of climate change and identify potential rebound effects and trade-offs.
  • Demonstrate the degree to which these approaches are affected by climate change itself and if they can still be effective under global warming of 2°C and higher.
  • Demonstrate the potential contribution of European abandoned land and protected areas systems for carbon sequestration, adaptation to and/or mitigation of climate change.
  • Develop strategies to minimize the increasing risk of wildfires due to the changing climate.
  • Provide operational methods for low cost, low human intervention options for ecosystems restoration optimising the contributions to climate and biodiversity objectives and managing trade-offs.
  • Help generate FAIR data and well-documented, robust and transparent methodologies for better integration of land-use management systems into IAMs and ESMs.
  • Assess the perception and acceptability of citizens and stakeholders on rewilding and rewilding options and identify potential conflicts and trade-offs in governance and decision-making.


The biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis are intrinsically linked and the contribution of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) to the global climate objectives is pivotal. A better understanding of how the use of ecosystems natural capacity, with minimal help from humans, can contribute to carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation is urgently needed to make the use of NBS operational.

Actions should foster interdisciplinary research with a focus on the climate-biodiversity nexus, advancing our knowledge to further promote integrated approaches to better address these interdependent challenges.

Actions, taking stock of previous and ongoing experience, including associated uncertainty, should provide a robust assessment of the potential contribution that restoring ecosystems, including trophic chains restoration, with a “let nature do the job”, also called “rewilding”, approach can provide in terms of carbon sequestration and storage, climate change mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity conservation. “Rewilding” is meant here as passive management of ecological succession with the goal of restoring natural ecosystem processes and reducing human control of landscapes, although some intervention may be required in the early restoration stages.

Actions can address specific ecosystems and/or landscapes on land, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems while providing a clear contribution to define the potential use of the “rewilding” approach at regional, national and continental levels.

Actions should build on an updated and detailed picture of the status and trends of ecosystems change, (including, where applicable, land abandonment) in Europe to assess where, at which ecological conditions and at what scale the “rewilding” approach can significantly improve carbon sequestration together with habitats reinforcement and biodiversity conservation.

Actions should investigate how “rewilding” can be complemented with other approaches (for example active restoration and conservation, low intensity farming, forestry and pasture management, fishing), taking into account specific regional conditions, to increase carbon sequestration, improve biodiversity conservation and ensure provision of goods and ecosystem services.

Actions should provide scientific insights, tools, methodologies and innovative solutions including social innovations to assist national governments, regions and communities in embedding the “rewilding” approach, as far as feasible, in their own plans to reach carbon neutrality. Actions should also advance the integration of land use options for carbon sequestration into IAMs and ESMs.

Actions should significantly advance knowledge on the role and relevance of restoring fully functional trophic chains, for instance through the conservation, management and reintroduction of apex predators, grazers and scavengers, in the “rewilding” process, with a special focus on the functioning of trophic cascades on landscape processes and the ability of ecosystems to act as carbon sinks. Challenges and barriers to this aim should be analysed and the involvement of Social Sciences and Humanities is recommended.

Actions should ensure appropriate multi-stakeholder collaboration and interdisciplinarity to embed socio-economic aspects, including opportunities for economic development, existing barriers (ecological, social, gender-related…) and potential synergies and drawbacks.

Actions should envisage clustering activities with other relevant actions, initiatives and programmes, including Horizon 2020 and the LIFE Programme to promote synergies, integration and co-operation. They should make use and contribute to knowledge exchange and networking European platforms (e.g. Climate-ADAPT, Network Nature, OPPLA, BiodivERsA). Cooperation and planning for further exploitation of actions results during and after the project end is strongly encouraged.

Synergies should be ensured with projects addressing wildfires (for example under the EU Green Deal call LC-GD-1-1-2020, Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 5).

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH and gender expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.

Social innovation is recommended when the solution is at the socio-technical interface and requires social change, new social practices, social ownership or market uptake.

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Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Demographic Change, Migration, Administration & Governance, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Rural & Peripheral Development, Regional Development & Regional Planning, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 60 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of between EUR 8.00 and 9.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 17.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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