Development of a European Private Land Conservation Network – LIFE ELCN

LIFE programme: LIFE Preparatory Projects call for Establishment of a European  Private Land Conservation Network. ADEPT Pilot action: Building commercial incentives for private landowner cooperation in nature conservation.

Funded by: European Commission

Project Duration: 2017 - 2020 (3 years)

Budget: 103.354  Euro

Project Objectives

The objective of the project is twofold: 

  • to test a number of private land conservation tools with an eye to promoting their replication at a wider level wherever feasible and proposing policy actions to support them
  • to develop a robust, well-informed European network on private land conservation with a clear long-term strategy (after LIFE) and strong international allies.

The project's work programme focuses on implementing and assessing innovative private land conservation tools and models, exchanging knowledge and experience about these tools, identifying legal and political obstacles to up-scaling them, and publicising private land conservation among relevant stakeholders. By doing so, the project intends to contribute to the further development of private land conservation tools and the expansion of their use.

At the same time, the project will continue and strengthen the networking among the practitioners of private land conservation in the EU and more widely. It will establish an ELCN (European Land Conservation Network) secretariat that will be charged with the long-term management of the network.

As outputs, it will produce assessments of the conservation tools tested in the project as well as guidelines and policy recommendations for private land conservation in the EU.

The project is implemented in the following Countries:

  • Germany - Berlin, Brandenburg
  • Belgium - Flanders
  • The Netherlands - Nordbrabant
  • Romania - Târnava Mare
  • Spain - Catalonia, Madrid
  • Portugal - Centro
  • Italy - All regions
  • Finland - All regions
  • Ireland - Munster

Project Updates

Join private, NGO, and community land conservationists from around the world at the International Land Conservation Network’s (ILCN) 2020 Global Congress, held in partnership with the First Congress of the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN)! 

The 2020 Congress of the ILCN and the ELCN will build upon the momentum, conversations, collaborations, and relationships that have emerged within these two networks over the past several years. The Congress will explore a range of topics, focused on how attendees may take specific actions in their home countries to advance private land conservation. The Congress is free to participants.

Please complete the proposal form electronically at the following link:


The third International Workshop of the ELCN will deal with the topic of “Cooperation for Private Land Conservation”. The workshop, which will take place on 3-7 June 2019 in Sighisoara, Romania, will explore examples of successful cooperative models for private land conservation. It will tackle the question of how conservationists, landowners, land users, public authorities and other stakeholders can best work together to foster private land conservation.

For more information please visit the event page.


In the framework of the ELCN, WWF Oasi convened the first ever national meeting of Italian privately protected areas in Orbetello from 3 to 5 April.

The ELCN is carrying out a study on the use of easements as a conservation tool in the European Union. Please help us better understand the current use and growth potential of this conservation tool by filling out this 3-minute online questionnaire

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As foreseen in Pilot Action A.06, Portuguese ELCN Project partner Montis seeks to bring land management where it lacks to create more biodiversity, more richness and more social value, with the community’s involvement. For this purpose, they intend to buy marginal land that in the recent past was important to the rural economy, but nowadays has no social function and is very vulnerable, namely to large wildfires, due to decades of abandonment.  The goal is to give a hand to the natural processes to increase biodiversity and the landscape resilience in order to become more useful and pleasant to a larger variety of species. They are doing so through a crowdfunding campaign that can be found here in case anyone would like to make a donation - which naturally would be highly appreciated!

On 5 February, MEP Karl-Heinz FLORENZ, President of the Biodiversity, Hunting and Countryside Intergroup of the European Parliament, has hosted an event in the European Parliament: Private landowners, what role for Europe’s nature? The event was an excellent opportunity to present the work of two ongoing LIFE Preparatory projects working on fostering and better institutionalisation of Private Land Conservation in Europe: Land Is Forever (LIFE LIFE) and European Private Land Conservation Network (LIFE ELCN).

The research targeted practitioners and included a series of focus group discussions and an online questionnaire. While the research was done in South Africa, the lessons learnt are applicable world wide.

ELCN project partner Montis has recently developed 3 volunteering actions with companies that allowed to deploy conservation efforts on two areas managed the NGO: Carvalhal de Vermilhas and baldio de Carvalhais, located in the center of Portugal. The actions took place on the 10th, 13th and 14th of October and accounted a total number of 92 volunteers.

To many, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of incentives are financial tools. However at the ELCN's workshop on the subject in Madrid, Spain, from 5-7 November, it turned out the motivations were manifold, ranging from conservation ideals to sentiment and tradition. Interestingly, studies have shown that financial motivations often rank at the bottom of the list of reasons why landowners get engaged in private land conservation. During the workshop this was confirmed with both the results of a global level scientific research and a practical example from Burren in Ireland.

The first thematic workshop of the LIFE ELCN Project was held in Rovaniemi, Finland, on 14-15 June 2018. The workshop focused on the legal tools for private land conservation in Europe and was hosted by the Finnish project partner Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland (LAPELY).

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We are proud to announce that our Pilot Action: Historic Heritage and Nature Conservation has been accepted  as one of the events celebrating the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Italy. You can read more about it (in Italian) here.

Call for Comments and Examples is now open. An initial draft has been prepared, but your input, insights and illustrations are requested.

  • Study tour & ILCN Global Congress, Santiago, Chile, January 24-26th, 2018

The ELCN project team attended the International Land Conservation Network, ILCN’s2018 Global Congress in Santiago, Chile on January 24-26th, 2018 and a study tour, an opportunity to see the conservation tools and techniques in use in Chile first hand, and to discuss the potential of their transferability to other countries in Europe.  The Congress explored a range of topics, focused on how attendees may take specific actions in their home countries to advance private land conservation, as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead for private land conservation. During the Congress ADEPT gave a presentation in the session of the conference called "Working lands conservation: sustaining our farms, forests and ranches”.

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The purpose of the Colorado Study Tour was to introduce the ELCN delegates to conservation tools and techniques that are not yet widely applied in the EU and to discuss the potential of their transferability with private land conservation practitioners from the US. The ELCN members together with representatives from the ILCN and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy went on an educational study tour of private land conservation projects around Denver, Colorado. Afterwards, the ELCN members attended the Land Trust Alliance’s annual Rally in Denver from Thursday night, October 26 through Saturday, October 28, 2017.

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The project steering committee met on 19 - 20 June 2017 at the headquarters of NABU in Berlin, Germany in order to sign partnership agreements and discuss the procedural and technical details of the project implementation (communication, reporting format, schedules). The meeting also served to further structure the work packages and formally assign clear roles and responsibilities within the project.

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Managing Body & Contact

Project Management Team:

Project coordinator – Tilmann Disselhoff/NABU (e-mail:

Technical assistant – Kristina Richter/NABU (e-mail:

Network coordinator - Kristijan Civic/Eurosite (e-mail:

Project manager IMA-Europe – Amina Langedijk/IMA (e-mail:

Focal point Romania – Nathaniel Page/ADEPT (e-mail: & Liliana Gherghiceanu/ADEPT (e-mail:

Focal point Portugal – Joao Ruano/Montis (e-mail:,

Focal point Finland – Jouni Rauhala/ELY (e-mail:

Focal point Belgium – Stefan Versweyveld/Natuurpunt (e-mail:

Focal points Italy – Francesco Marcone (e-mail: and Stefano Picchi/WWF Oasi (e-mail:

Focal points Spain – Victor Gutierrez/Fundación Biodiversidad (e-mail:, Jofre Rodrigo/XCT (e-mail:,

Liliana Gherghiceanu

Project Manager
Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania