MOVE Project culminates its work leaving a legacy of seven case studies to advance MAES in the EU ORs and OCTs

After three and a half years of work and with a European Commission co-funding close to one million euros, the MOVE project has ended with the mapping ecosystems and their services in seven Overseas entities of the European Union (EU): the Azores, Canary Islands, Sint Maarten, the Falkland Islands, Martinique, Reunion Island and French Guiana, laying the foundations, procedures and formulas for collaboration to be carried out in the future throughout the whole EU Overseas.

MOVE involved and capacitated local stakeholders in the methodologies for Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES). This methodology has become a fundamental component on the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020-2030. This strategy, in its Action 5 of its Objective 2, called on Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territories, creating a European-scale knowledge base necessary for advancing biodiversity objectives and fostering informed policies on agriculture, water, climate and landscape planning.

Alongside all this, a specific project was needed for the EU’s Overseas entities [which include the Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)], all recognized for their exceptional biodiversity.

The participatory approach adopted in the MOVE has enabled the application of the most advanced tools and models to map, assess and evaluate ecosystem services, leveraging Blue and Green infrastructures across EU’s Overseas entities.

As explains Carolina Parelho, head of the coordination team and manager of the project, led by the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) from the Regional Government of the Azores , “the case studies developed by MOVE have undoubtedly been an important contribution to the implementation of MAES in each of the participating regions. Today, local actors and stakeholders have tailor-made tools, methods and approaches to face the current and future challenges of mapping and assessing ecosystem services”.

Sete Cidades is a Portuguese parish in the municipality of Ponta Delgada. Credits to FRCT.

The MOVE first step was to assess the status of MAES in the participating ORs and OCTs to mobilize stakeholders to define the case studies, which allowed knowing and exploiting their needs, expectations and bottlenecks in the implementation of MAES in each of the participating regions.

Supported by MOVE partners and stakeholders involved in each case study, a Red List of Ecosystems Feasibility Study, based on the IUCN global framework, was made specifically for the EU Overseas. This study provided a solid contribution to support the implementation of conservation, protection and sustainable management practices in the EU Overseas, as well as data availability, priority identification, recommendations and the next steps to be implemented.

Another major achievement of the project was the development of a MAES Strategic Plan for the EU Overseas entities. This document joins all the knowledge gathered in the implementation of the MOVE project, lessons learned and next steps to be developed into a roadmap that aims to facilitate MAES implementation across the Overseas, guiding local policies and interventions by Member States and the European Commission.

“The strategy entails specific actions covering data collection and sharing, removing legislative and regulatory gaps, improving the interaction between science and policy, increasing public support and awareness, improving administrative capacity at the local level, and incorporating ecosystem services into financial and economic instruments,” points out Carolina Parelho, PhD in Biology (Biomedicine and Environmental Toxicology) from UAç (Portugal), and postgraduate in Biotechnology in Biological Control. Since March 2019, she has been working at FRCT, being responsible for the analysis and monitoring of regional, national and international R&D&I programs in the areas of Biodiversity, Agriculture, Environment and Bioeconomy.

42 months of work

The implementation of MOVE has lasted 42 months, from April 2018 to September 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the development of various project actions, specially the regional workshops with local stakeholders to validate the MAES tools applied in each case study.

La Réunion Fishing Port, one of the MOVE case studies. Credits to IRD.

To overcome this challenge, those activities that required physical interaction were rescheduled and online platforms were preferentially used for the intended collaborative development and knowledge sharing. However, due to the synchronization and interdependence of the results of all MOVE activities, a six-month extension was necessary to conclude the project.

“It has been inspiring to see Overseas communities around the world playing an active role in MOVE success, from experts and policymakers to civil society.  We are proud of the work developed, the boost in scientific capacity in the participating regions and the facilitation of regional policies. We look forward to further advancing the methodology and seeing MAES replicated in more ORs and OCTs in Europe,” says Carolina Parelho.

The MOVE results highlight the steps needed to overcome some barriers encountered for the advancement of MAES in EU´s Overseas: the fine-tuning and selection of appropriate methods for advancing MAES and supporting their implementation, taking into account the specific needs and data availability in each of the participating regions; a strong coordination and integration of methods; the consolidation and expansion of a knowledge network of EU Overseas ecosystems, by expanding the MOVE community through linking with existing initiatives; the development and dissemination of good practice guidelines to improve policy implementation in ORs and OCTs. These are the challenges being addressed by the ongoing MOVE-ON project, that will continue the work done by its predecessor.

MOVE webinar series: Seventh Case Study on French Guiana

Università degli Studi di Trento (UNITN) and Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FRCT) coordinated the last MOVE webinar focusing on the case study of French Guiana.

After a brief introduction to the project objectives, the researcher Ina M. Sieber (LUH) provided an overview of the social and ecological importance of the Guiana shield, and the rational of the case study in terms of giving the first estimates of land use changes and the mapping of ecosystem services bundles (of 21 provisioning, regulating and cultural services) for 14 land uses within the territory including marine, agricultural, forest and urban covers.

Methodological approaches comprised lookup tables and a participatory stakeholder workshop led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, FRANCE), LUH and ECOSEO Interreg Project. Expert estimations were useful to assess the ecosystem services supply capacities of the different land use types. The presented results include the supply capacities of ecosystem services bundles to highlight landscapes’ multifunctionality and the effects of deforestation for land use change values. Final discussions centred around assessing land use/land cover changes, the differences between choosing diverse datasets (mainly CORINE and Open Street Map) for MAES in urban territories in terms of accuracy and details, and the implications of these results for policy-making and for balancing land use planning objectives to obtain a sustainable supply of ecosystem services.

46 participants attended this webinar. An analysis of their profiles showed a heterogeneous representation of the research community from different areas of the world. Moreover, 5% of the participants were stakeholders from the Guiana region that work for institutions such as the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and the National Forest Office of France (ONF).

MOVE project recommends MOOC Conservation

MOVE project recommends MOOC Conservation (Massive Open Online Course), a platform that is dedicated to online courses on nature conservation. The training materials are developed by IUCN-PAPACO (the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Programme on African Protected Areas and Conservation) and its partners.

The courses are free of charge and open to all and they are meant for an unlimited number of participants. MOOCs gives anyone with an Internet connection access to training on a wide selection of topics. They are usually made up of short thematic videos, quizzes, automatically or peer-graded assessments, recommended readings, etc.

One of the MOVE project partners, the Spanish NGO Asociación Biodiversidad Atlántica y Sostenibilidad (ABAS), which actively collaborates in different projects linked to the ECOAQUA Institute of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, will participate in the content elaboration of one of the MOOCs courses, focused in marine conservation areas. It will be available next March.

For further information:

MOVE webinar series: Sixth Case Study on La Réunion Island

The sixth  MOVE webinar, moderated by the University of Trento (Italy) and organized in coordination with the University of La Laguna (ULL, Spain) and the Regional Fund for Science and Technology of The Azores (FRCT, Portugal) took place on January 21, 2021. It focused on the regional case study of La Réunion Island in which an illustrative overview of ecosystem services from the terrestrial and marine domain was provided.

After an introductory presentation by Enrique Casas (ULL) on the assessment and validation of mapping tools in the seven MOVE case studies, Erwann Lagabrielle (University of La Réunion) presented the main findings from La Réunion. Main topics covered included the use of large temporal open-access remote sensing data (MODIS) and levels of invasion of pristine vegetation (GCEIP data)  to delineate habitat units for terrestrial and marine ecosystems. These habitat units were used a spatial reference to assess and evaluate a subset of ecosystem services belonging to three main categories: provisioning services (sea fishing), regulation and maintenance services (marine and terrestrial carbon sequestration, regulation of coastal erosion) and cultural services (coastal tourism activities). Methods to conduct this economic valuation process included net factor income value, replacement cost, consumer surplus-based value, damage cost, and market values.

For the final part of the webinar, preliminary results were linked to the impacts of local anthropogenic pressures and climate change and discussions centred around possible ways of improving MAES methods as well as implications for shaping marine and terrestrial spatial planning policies in La Réunion.

Fifty-five participants attended this digital event. A report of their institutional profiles showed that this had been the most heterogenous webinar as most attendees (74%) were members from research communities and the academic world from very diverse areas of the world.


MOVE webinar series: Fifth case study on Sint Maarten

The fifth MOVE webinar that focused on the Sint Maarten case study took place on November 18 and was moderated by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) in coordination with the Wolfs Company.

The main presenters, Sem Duijndam (IVM) and Jonathan Schmiedel (IVM), focused on the economic valuation of coastal and marine ecosystem services. Relevant covered topics include the use of the choice experiment method to assess respondent’s willingness to pay for a wide range of ecosystem services (e.g recreation and water quality) and the spatial variation of economic-relevant services. Studies were complemented with an economic appraisal of different environmental management scenarios and a cost-benefit analysis to understand which strategies enhance the economic value of the study area. Results indicated that environmental management approaches, such as mangrove restoration or the expansion of marine protected areas, are more beneficial for the economy than the business as usual or engineering-based approaches. Moreover, the presentations highlighted the importance of translating this type of studies into policies and initiatives that can have a positive impact for the environment of the study area.

This event was attended by 11 participants, mostly researchers and policy advisers from the environmental sector of St. Maarten (e.g. Nature Foundation St Maarten and The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance).

MOVE webinar series: Fourth case study on The Azores

The fourth MOVE webinar, moderated by the University of Trento (Italy) and organized in coordination with the Regional Fund for Science and Technology of The Azores (FRCT, Portugal), took place on October 29. Its focus were the relevant results from the regional case study of The Azores, located in the Macaronesia biographical region.

The main presentations were led by the researchers Marta Vergílio (FRCT) and Ina Sieber (Leibniz University Hannover, Germany). Main topics covered the modelling of relevant ecosystem services in Terceira Island using the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs tool (InVEST), and the impacts of using different Land Use/Land Covers datasets (CORINE, COS.A, and Sentinel2) for modelling outputs.  In addition, model validation was highlighted for enhancing possible heterogenous results from using different LULC datasets in ecosystem services assessment. In this regard, when contrasting results are obtained, they need to be further validated with additional data sources such as matrix applications based on expert knowledge or participatory GIS Mapping. Finally, the main implications of this study for policy and decision making were discussed, specifically in terms of selecting the best LULC model depending on specific targets and policy goals.

This digital event was attended by 65 participants and an analysis of their profiles showed a heterogeneous representation. 60% of participants were stakeholders or partners from The Azores region and other areas of Portugal (SIMBIENTE Azores, University of The Azores, University of Aveiro, CIBIO-InBIO Portugal, Agricultural Association of Terceira Island, among other). Interestingly, the remaining 40% of attendees were members from research communities and the academic world from diverse areas of the world such as Latin America, mainland Europe (Italy, Slovakia, UK) and Southern Asia.

MOVE Progress & Planning meeting

The most recent MOVE Progress & Planning meeting took place last Wednesday, 15th of October, for nearly two hours, with lots of inputs from different partners involved in the project.

In this virtual event organised by Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FRCT), the presentations were led by Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH), University of La Laguna (ULL), Université de La Réunion, University of Portsmouth (UoP) and Asociación Biodiversidad Atlántica y Sostenibilidad (ABAS) in collaboration with the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA), a research center of excellence at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The previous coordination meeting took place last February, and in this new meeting some significant issues were discussed to assess the overall progress of project activities and the current state and evolution of the seven case studies, focusing the work of a dedicated team of local experts, policy makers and civil society members, pooled from across the OR and OCTs.

The selected MOVE case-studies cover six of the seven biogeographical regions with EU presence: the Azores, The Canary Islands, Dutch Caribbean (Saint Martin), the Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Martinique and La Réunion.

During this period of time, MOVE project partners have worked in a review of scientific literature about mapping and assessing ecosystem services in EU OCTs and ORs, and also preparing guidelines, surveys, reports and projects for stakeholders in the different territories engaged in this project.

Morover, different parnetrs have organized workshops, moderated online discussion forums, webinars, at the local level as a participatory action to implement some of the MOVE actions

The project is moving towards its final point with very good outputs that soon will be aired in MOVE project website.  The final meeting and Third General Assembly is scheduled to be organized in Brusells (Belgium), February 2021.


MOVE webinar series: Third case study on Martinique

The third MOVE webinar, which focused on the case study of the Martinique, took place on July 30. Hosted once more by the University of Trento (Italy), the introduction to this webinar briefly discussed the MOVE project and the importance of the MOVE webinar series to share relevant scientific knowledge that stem from our 7 regional case studies.

In this occasion, the main presentation was divided into two sections; the first one, led by Dr. Jean-Philippe Maréchal from the Nova Blue Environmental company (France), focused on the assessment of coral reef ecosystem condition over the past 20 years. Main results covered major benthic compartments and fish assemblages to detect stable and transitional stages. Ewan Trégarot, from the University of Portsmouth (UK), conducted the second part of the webinar and presented some preliminary results on the assessment of ecosystem services such as coastal protection, water purification and biomass production, and their link with the ecosystem condition of coral reefs in Martinique. This assessment was further complemented by an economic valuation for wave energy attenuation, water treatment and fish biomass production.

With a total of 12 participants, a brief analyses from their profiles and institutional backgrounds showed that this webinar mas mainly attended by partners from the Regional Found of Science and Technology of the Azores, and members of the research community from the regional area of Martinique.

You can access the webinar broadcast video at the following link:

MOVE webinar series: Second case study on the Falkland Islands

The second MOVE webinar that focused on the case study of the Falkland Islands took place on July 16th. During the webinar, partners from the University of Trento (Italy) briefly discussed the Mapping and Assessment for Ecosystem and their services (MAES) approach and gave a quick introductory talk of the MOVE project and the MOVE webinar series in their importance for facilitating the sharing of knowledge between partners and the general public.

The main talk of the webinar was led by Dr Dan Bailey from the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), who presented preliminary results on the ecosystem services value associated with the giant kelp forests of the Falklands. This work focused on estimating the direct services of harvested kelp-associated fisheries, and potential harvested kelp alginate value as well as the indirect services of nutrient cycling and carbon storage / sequestration. Methodological approaches were also discussed, such as the use and accuracy of satellite remote sensing to measure the extent of kelp forest, and estimates underwater density using SCUBA ground-truthing.

More than 20 people attended this event and, in contrast to our first webinar, we had higher heterogeneity of participants from different backgrounds and institutions, mostly associated to the European research community outside the regional area of the Falklands.

Click here to access the webinar:



MOVE webinar series: First case study on the Canary Islands

MOVE project has launched a webinar series aiming to present the activities and progress of Ecosystem Services Assessment and Mapping Strategies (MAES) methodology implementation in the different project cases study regions (The Azores, Canary Islands, Saint Martin, Martinique, French Guiana, La Réunion and  Falkland Islands). Each webinar is a valuable opportunity to exchange information among stakeholders, regional partners, and the general audience regarding the #MAES process in the EU Overseas Territories and the case study regions.

The first MOVE web seminar, focused on the case study of the Canary Islands, took place on June 18th. The University of La Laguna (ULL-Spain) presented through the Zoom platform the preliminary results of the use of modelling tools, which allow to estimate future scenarios on the state of ecosystems conservation. The meadows of Cymodocea nodosa, a marine plant that colonizes part of the coasts of the Canary archipelago, important in the supply of ecosystem services as an habitat for species of fishing interest and refuge for biodiversity and for carbon sequestration, were taken as samples.

This first approximation made by the ULL presented the model of spatial distribution of Cymodocea nodosa in the Canary Islands based on existing records of the plant, related to different environmental variables such as primary production or water temperature.

During the webinar, the Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FRCT, Azores), coordinator of the project, also made a brief introduction of MOVE, while another partner, the University of Trento (Italy), presented the electronic forum,  a communication tool between society and specially, the stakeholders in the mapping and evaluation of ecosystem services in the European outermost regions, and the members of the project.

This digital meeting was attended by 46 participants, mainly representatives from the academic world and from various research institutes in Europe and Latin America.  An analysis of the organisational affiliation of the participants also revealed that people from all the Canary Islands attended the webinar, especially members of the University of La Laguna, the University Institute of Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography.

Click here to access the webinar:



Electronic Forum

A tool to facilitate the dialogue among the stakeholders and the project partners

Electronic Forum