Safeguard aims to substantially contribute to reversing the loss of wild pollinators across Europe through increasing our understanding of the direct and indirect drivers of pollinator declines, environmental, economic and societal impacts and delivering an integrated assessment framework as basis for a portfolio of effective policy and practice solutions. Our goal is to inspire the development of management and policy guidelines for the public and private sectors to safeguard wild pollinators and the benefits they provide. Acknowledging that global change requires global solutions Safeguard includes Chinese partners to address the topic in a different geographical and climatic context.


Re-assessment of the status and trends 

Provide a comprehensive re-assessment of the status and trends of European wild pollinators including their diversity and abundance, plant-pollinator network structures, habitats, and conservation status. This will fill major knowledge gaps around the conservation status of data deficient species and characterise recent trends of pollinators under global change.

Predict the impacts of drivers

Predict the impacts of drivers and pressures with special focus on multiple and interacting pressures, long-term and cumulative effects, at population, community and interaction levels, and at multiple spatial scales. This will significantly enhance the mechanistic ecosystem understanding of cumulative and interactive effects of environmental pressures on pollinators and plant-pollinator interactions and builds the basis for generating scenarios of global change.

Quantify the multiple values, co-benefits and contributions to natural capital 

Quantify the multiple values, co-benefits and contributions to natural capital associated with shifts in pollinator communities, hereby including the economic, social, cultural, and wider biodiversity and ecosystem service values. This will provide key information for an integrative socio-ecological impact assessment of ongoing pollinator declines and future potential benefits of restored pollinator diversity.

Quantify the effectiveness of multiple interventions 

Develop and test novel approaches to quantify the effectiveness of multiple interventions to benefit pollinators, individually and in combination, from field to landscape scales across (semi-)natural, agricultural, and urban systems. This will provide critical knowledge on types, combinations, and spatial arrangement of interventions tailored to different ecosystem types and management objectives.

Co-develop an integrated assessment framework 

Co-develop an integrated assessment framework that incorporates multiple types of evidence to assess and address pollinator declines through direct mitigation strategies at the local, national, and EU levels. Within this framework, a multi-actor approach will be used to co-develop tools for monitoring, assessing, valuing, and predicting pollinator changes and resulting impacts to inform management decisions and policy development.

Inform national, European, and global policies 

Provide relevant and timely evidence to inform national, European, and global policies and decision making. The continuous involvement of policy makers and bidirectional exchange from the start of the project will ensure a strong contribution to the European Green Deal and other pollinator-relevant policies.

Increase awareness and knowledge 

Increase awareness and knowledge of wild pollinators and their societal values with multiple actors, including scientists, general public, policy makers, industry and NGOs, to mobilise concerted actions to reverse pollinator declines. Safeguard will implement the SAFE-Hub, a multi-actor driven knowledge exchange platform, to deliver state of the art methodologies, tools, maps and knowledge to empower enhanced decision making and the co-design of solutions to wild pollinator decline.


Pollinator research has tremendous importance, to safeguard both pollinators and the values they generate, but can also serve as a blueprint that guides public and private initiatives to halt and reverse biodiversity decline in general and thus restore and enhance ecosystem services and their resilience. 

Safeguard will investigate spatial distributions and temporal trends of pollinator biodiversity, pollination services and responses to multiple pressures in (i) (semi-)natural habitats, (ii) agricultural landscapes and (iii) urban areas.

Safeguard will develop and test best-practice tools and methods for targeting intervention types, and assess the effectiveness of combinations and spatial arrangements of interventions.

Safeguard will establish empirical research in a modular site network across Europe for a systematic multi-scale assessment of multiple pressures on pollinators.

Safeguard aims to conceive an integrated assessment framework (IAF) that builds on pre-existing and new knowledge syntheses as well as a portfolio of evaluated modelling approaches and decision making tools. The IAF will be co-developed with stakeholders, to capitalize on their expertise and ensure relevance and usability of knowledge synthesis and toolkits.


Safeguard is structured into 8 workpackages (WPs), which closely integrate research on ecological, economic, social and policy dimensions of pollinator diversity and multiple ecosystem services. WPs build upon each other and are closely linked through flow of data, cross-cutting empirical work, integrative data synthesis and modelling.

(Lead: CSIC; UMONS). Safeguard will mobilise EU experts and data, following the IUCN Red List process, to (i) perform a re-assessment of the European bee and butterfly Red Lists; (ii) provide the first national bee Red Lists for Mediterranean countries; and (iii) update checklists for bees in all Member State (MS). Safeguard will also compile and make available distributional and key trait data for bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.

(Lead: UFZ; UWUE). WP2 will address knowledge gaps regarding pollinator responses to global change by analysing the cumulative and interacting effects of multiple anthropogenic pressures at the levels of species, communities, plant-pollinator networks and plant reproduction. WP2 combines three complementary and synergistic approaches by (i) synthesising knowledge from data available within Safeguard; (ii) establishing systemic empirical research in the Safeguard modular site network; and (iii) integrative modelling.

(Lead: SLU; INRAE). This WP will assess the multiple values associated with pollinators. Building upon the IPBES ‘Pollination’ assessment and ‘Multiple values of nature and its benefits methodological assessment’, we will: (i) assess the co-benefits of interventions; (ii) quantify the wider socio-cultural values of pollinators and pollinator-dependent habitats including their aesthetic, symbolic, cultural, recreational and religious dimensions; (iii) adapt state-of-the-art models of pollinator populations to map and project pollinator natural capital across Europe; (iv) co-develop models to assess the impacts of pollinator losses on value chains, employment and human health for both EU-grown and ex-EU products.

(Lead: WU; UNIPD). This WP investigates two broad areas with outstanding knowledge gaps identified by both researchers and stakeholders: (i) novel approaches to test and quantify effectiveness of interventions at the landscape scale; and (ii) opportunities and risks for pollinators from current approaches to mitigate biodiversity loss across agricultural, urban and protected areas.

(Lead: ULUND; INRAE). WP5 will build an Integrative Assessment Framework that uses existing and new knowledge generated by Safeguard, and associated projects, incorporating three key steps: (i) accurately framing the specific problem/issue/aspect; (ii) integrating different knowledge sources; and (iii) experimentation and testing of response options, decision-making processes or tools.

(Lead: IEEP; IUCN). This WP will assess current and developing international, EU and MS policies to identify current inclusion and future entry points for Safeguard work. It will develop a roadmap for engaging with EU policies; European Pollinators Initiative (EPI; Nature Directives and Natura 2000; MS implementation and policy tools (CAP Strategic Plans); and Internationally (IPBES, CBD, SDG, UNEP, FAO, IPCC).

(Lead: PENSOFT; UREAD). This WP will foster communication, knowledge exchange and impact development by (i) undertaking a stakeholder mapping process ; (ii) framing an overall knowledge exchange strategy and (iii) developing a detailed knowledge exchange plan to ensure effective impact. We will (i) make the novel methodologies, user-friendly tools and best practice guides available for the stakeholder community ; (ii) synthesize the project findings ; (iii) participate in Civil Dialogue Groups on pollinators and actively engage with the EU Bee Partnership to ensure widespread dissemination of outputs. We will bring together Safeguard outputs with other fragmented knowledge sources to feed into the SAFE-Hub knowledge exchange platform as a one-stop place to access data, tools, online GIS maps, practice guides and multi-media materials for policymakers, researchers, industry, NGOs and the public. WP7 will engage widely with the public to raise awareness around pollinator declines to encourage wider societal support for other stakeholders to take positive actions.

(Lead: UWUE). Safeguard will be led by UWUE providing overall coordination to the consortium. UREAD will provide support as co-coordinator with both partners having complementary expertise and long-standing experience in coordinating EU and other international projects. The external advisory board will foster the implementation and assure continuous multidirectional exchange with the scientific and stakeholder community.

The Safeguard consortium will closely collaborate with Chinese partners who will receive funding from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology-MOST within the EU-China Horizon 2020 cooperation programme. The participating universities, China West Normal University-CWNU (coordinator of the Chinese project part), Northwest A&F University-NWAFU, Nankai University-NU will establish coordinated research in China and will closely interact with European partners through meetings, data exchange and synthesis, experimental work using standardised protocols and study designs, and transfer of concepts for environmental management to promote pollinators and maintain ecosystem services to China.


This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101003476.

  • Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology (Zoo III)
  • Biocentre
  • University of Würzburg
  • Am Hubland
  • 97074 Würzburg, Germany

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