ECNC projects heavily featured during Green Week 2015
‘Nature – our health, our wealth’ was the theme of this year’s EU Green week – plenty of reason, therefore, for ECNC staff to participate in this annual large-scale environmental conference in Brussels.
ECNC contributed to the conference by presenting and promoting its work on the OpenNESS project. This EU-funded research project is about transforming the knowledge on ecosystem services and natural capital into practical applications, and was thus ideally placed in an exhibition stand on nature-based solutions, biodiversity and climate change. This stand was organized by the EC Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and brought together four related research projects: OpenNESS, the twin project OPERAs, the freshwater biodiversity project BioFresh, and LUC4C on land use and climate change. The stand attracted a lot of interest from the hundreds of event participants, including business, research, policy, and NGOs. In addition to the stand, ECNC also promoted Oppla, the knowledge-sharing platform jointly developed by OpenNESS and OPERAs. ‘Oppla agents’ cruised the conference venue, proactively raising awareness and attracting the involvement of many of the participants.
At a Green Week side event on 3 June in Brussels, ECNC Adviser on Rural Development Peter van der Goot served as a discussant during the 2nd EU level workshop in the context of the HERCULES project on Landscape Stewardship: Integrating a broad suite of landscape values into rural development policies. Landscape governance has most typically followed a preservation approach throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, comprising the designation of special sites. This has more recently been complemented by a landscape stewardship approach, understood as a way of collaboratively managing landscape values and preferences deemed important to a range of stakeholder groups. Landscape stewardship is centered on everyday, often rural and periurban, landscapes that are exposed to multiple societal demands, whether for infrastructure purposes, urbanization, agricultural-land uses, or outdoor recreation. Here, decision-making involves many stakeholders, ranging from farmers and local residents to tourists and nature conservationists. In the workshop, it was examined how Europe could contribute towards improving the effectiveness of innovative models of landscape stewardship, such as well-designed integrated landscape initiatives, to enable better management of their resources, take advantage of their potentials and mitigate their constraints. The presentations and discussions gave a clear insight into the development of scientific research in the matter, the demands by stakeholders like landowners, farmers, urban functions and tourism, and the practical issues that come together with landscape development plans.
At the invitation of the Committee of Regions, Neil McIntosh participated in the session on Thursday 4th June, entitled, Nature 2000 as a source of regional identity and values. During this session he presented the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process, which ECNC leads on behalf of the European Commission. As part of his presentation, Neil highlighted the strategic context of the Process, the contribution to the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and four best practice case studies which had been presented at the December 2014 conference organised for the European Learning Network on Regions and Biodiversity entitled “Natura 2000 in Action”. As part of the process, ECNC is supporting the development and implementation of a series of networking events and Biogeographical Seminars, as well as the development of the dedicated web-based resource for information, events and knowledge materials relevant to Natura 2000 across the EU. The session was attended by over 60 participants. It was ably moderated by CoR Board member Roby Biwer and several ideas for follow-up were identified to continue to grow the links between regional authorities with responsibilities for implementation of Natura 2000 and the Natura 2000 experts being mobilised through the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process.