Based on a better understanding of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem functioning ALARM aims to develop and test methods and protocols for the assessment of large-scale environmental risks in order to minimise negative direct and indirect human impacts.

Research will focus on assessment and forecast of changes in biodiversity and in structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems. This relates to ecosystem services and includes the relationship between society, economy and biodiversity. In particular, risks arising from climate change, environmental chemicals, biological invasions and pollinator loss in the context of current and future European land use patterns will be assessed.

There is an increasing number of case studies on the environmental risks subsequent to each of these impacts. This yields an improved understanding on how these act individually and affect living systems. Whereas the knowledge on how they act in concert is poor and ALARM will be the first research initiative with the critical mass needed to deal with such aspects of combined impacts and their consequences.

Risk assessments in ALARM will be hierarchical and examine a range of organisational (genes, species, ecosystems), temporal (seasonal, annual, decadal) and spatial scales (habitat, region, continent) determined by the appropriate resolution of current case studies and databases.

Socio-economics as a cross-cutting theme will contribute to the integration of driver-specific risk assessment tools and methods and will develop instruments to communicate risks to biodiversity to end users, and indicate policy options to mitigate such risks.