The study was presented at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action and will be coordinated by Miguel Bastos Araújo, a professor at the University of Évora, biogeographer and expert on the effects of climate change on biodiversity who was awarded the Pessoa Prize in 2018.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the ceremony to present the initiative, which will be funded by the Environmental Fund, Miguel Bastos Araújo said that the document would be ready in two years and would be structured along five axes, one of which is the area in which he is an expert, biodiversity and climate.
In this area, he said, the aim was to present measures that could be applied to facilitate adaptation of biodiversity to climate change, such as connectivity between protected areas or measures to facilitate the dispersion of species, when necessary.
On biodiversity and territory and inland areas, the experts, from various universities, will carry out a "critical analysis" of land use planning instruments and will seek to adapt existing measures to make them more dynamic and flexible.
On a fourth axis, biodiversity and oceans, they will seek to identify most of the places in the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone that can be classified as marine protected areas, and on the biodiversity and people axis researchers will "seek to find ways to encourage ecosystem management for biodiversity", said the professor and researcher.
This is done, he said, "by creating and proposing mechanisms to remunerate those who contribute to preserving biodiversity".
Miguel Bastos Araújo did not want to give too many details, but he left an idea of what is intended: "Today, damaging biodiversity is very cheap. It is either forbidden and cannot be done, or it can be done, but the variable biodiversity does not enter into the economic calculation. What we are proposing is to make it more expensive to spoil biodiversity, which will have two consequences, one is that people stop doing it because it is expensive, and the other is that if they do, they have to pay for it".
And that money, he added, would serve to pay those who create biodiversity, those who work in the territory and who have a beneficial action for ecosystems, such as farmers with sustainable practices, or producers who create sustainable forests as well.
Miguel Bastos Araújo stressed that on the issue of climate adaptation of biodiversity there are still no countries with measures taken, and cited a study saying that the main threats to biodiversity in the world are the transformation of rural areas into agricultural areas and the over-utilisation of fishing resources.
In Portugal, he said, biodiversity has been the 'poor relative' of environmental policy for decades. "There is much to be done and I hope that the study will be a spearhead in proposing new initiatives and trying to improve on what exists".
Ricardo Serrão Santos and João Pedro Matos Fernandes, respectively ministers of the sea and environment and climate action, agreed that there is much to be done in this area, with the first saying that actions to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity are "urgent," and the second considering "urgent" actions to reverse the loss of that biodiversity.
Alexandra Carvalho, director of the Environmental Fund had previously said that biodiversity loss and climate change are among the greatest threats to humanity.
A first paper on the study will be presented later this year.