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:



MOVE ON Project virtual kick-off meeting (May 12 -14th)

Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES), as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, is entering a new phase in the Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union. With the Kick-off of the MOVE-ON Project, that took placed on May 12-14th, the European Commission funded another initiative to enhance work on ecosystems, their services, biodiversity and condition in the EU Overseas.

The foundation for the work on MAES in the EU Overseas has been set in 2017, when the EU MOVE Project was initiated. This project aims to “Facilitating MAES to support regional policy in Overseas Europe: mobilizing stakeholders and pooling resources” and comprises a consortium of 14 project partners including the South Atlantic Islands (SAERI, University of Portsmouth), French Guiana (CIRAD), the Caribbean Netherlands (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Wolfs Company), La Réunion, Martinique (IRD), the Canary Islands and the Azores. Institutions from EU Mainland support the EU Overseas in the project, such as Leibniz University of Hanover, University of Trento and University of Madrid. Implementing first case studies in the respective Overseas regions, MAES methods developed in EU mainland are currently tested and adapted for island specificities. This marks a first attempt to actively engage the EU Overseas in the MAES process.

Building upon this work, has been created the MOVE-ON Project, “Setting the ground to advance MAES in Europe´s overseas: From case studies to anchor projects”. The project is coordinated by the Regional Government of the Azores, trough the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) and will have a duration of 3 years and total funding of 1,499,856 €. The MOVE-ON project intensifies the existing collaboration of MOVE and deepens the work in four so-called anchor regions. These anchor regions are located in French Guiana, the South Atlantic, Macaronesia and La Réunion. These regions cover topics such as the elaboration of sustainable development plans and ecosystem services management plans, marine ecosystem condition assessment and mapping, assessment of ecosystem services and functionality and the implementation of ES mapping and assessment outcomes. In close collaboration with policy and decision makers, stakeholders and the civil society, the MAES process will be encouraged from a bottom-up approach. This way, the MOVE-ON aims to accelerate the uptake of MAES and showcase first examples from the science-policy interface in the EU Overseas by 2023.

This information was annouced in the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) newsletter from May and can be consulted here.

MOVE project will carry out 8 case studies to develop and test the feasibility of MAES in Europe’s Overseas

The European Union will finance a total of eight case studies over the next few months, of around one million euros, to understand the impact of climate change on the ecosystems of the Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). This was advanced by José Manuel Viegas Azevedo, professor of the University of the Azores and coordinator of the MOVE project through the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT), who attended last May the annual meeting of the MOVE Consortium held in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) to establish possible future lines of research for this programme.

MOVE is a pilot project funded by the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission as part of the implementation of the European Biodiversity Strategy. MOVE’s main objective is to identify and map the main regional and local stakeholders, as well as the assessment of the state of ecosystems and their services in the ORs and OCTs of EU. To achieve this objective, MOVE, which has been underway for about a year in its initial phase, brings together a consortium of 14 research institutions present in 6 European overseas regions.

Among the new case studies that will be developed through MOVE there is one in French Guiana that will evaluate the impact of climate change on the water cycle and whose methodology and results, can be extrapolated to the rest of the European territories involved in these type of studies.

“One of the concerns of our partners is related to the use of water, so we will develop some projects related to the state of ecosystems and aquifers, and how they can be impacted by different aspects related to climate change,” he explains. The study in French Guiana, carried out by the Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development (CIRAD) and the University of Hannover, will study the different types of forests and their role in the water cycle, quantifying, the capacity of each type of forest to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Two other MOVE case studies will focus on carbon fixation capacity, one at sea, based in the Canary Islands, and another land-based, in the Azores, coordinated by FRCT, which will study how to change agricultural practices so that they can reinforce the absorption of carbon dioxide. “The study seeks to compare permanent pastures, those that do not use fertilizers, with those that do, because we know that those that do not use fertilizers absorb carbon better, but we would like to quantify it,” he said.

The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), through The University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA), the University of La Laguna (ULL), the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), and the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) will be involved in the Canary Islands research, which will be developed with an integrated management approach to quantify the role of underwater marine vegetation in capturing and fixing atmospheric carbon.

José Manuel Viegas Azevedo recalls that many of the projects to be carried out revolve around “the issue of the moment”, climate change, although he wanted to stress that “we are demanding that we no longer use the term climate change, but that we speak of climate and environmental catastrophe, as we have to reduce rapidly the emission of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases”.

This reduction does not occur only through a lower emission of gases, but in knowing well how nature is able to reabsorb the gases present in the atmosphere.

Among the remaining five case studies, in which the rest of MOVE’s members will participate, he points out, there is one that studies the impact of tourism on land and at sea, another on fishing and another on how urban pollution has an impact on pollution at sea. They will be developed on the islands of La Réunion, Martinique, St. Martin, Falkland and St. Helena. The projects are of 18 months duration, he details, so that “at the end of the cycle we will have interesting results to share”.


MOVE members attend the Third International Island Biology Conference on La Réunion Island

José Manuel Viegas Azevedo, professor at the University of the Azores, and Francisco Otero Ferrer, post-doctoral researcher at the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA) and member of ABAS (Association for Atlantic Biodiversity and Sustainability) attended the Third International Island Biology Conference, held in July (8-13) on the island of La Réunion (France), representing the MOVE project.

This European Union (EU) project, which will run for 3 years and is coordinated by the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) of the Regional Government of the Azores, involves a total of 14 organizations, mostly universities and research institutes.

The International Island Biology Conference took place for the first time in Hawaii in 2014, and the second edition was held subsequently in the Azores in 2016. The latest in La Réunion has managed to bring together more than 400 experts in marine and terrestrial ecosystems related to island environments.

José Azevedo presented an oral communication within a session dedicated to conservation, explaining the need to preserve biodiversity in the European overseas islands based on the experience acquired in the Macaronesia. “These places constitute,” said Azevedo, “a privileged place to focus conservation efforts and check their effectiveness”.

In his presentation, he gave the example of the BEST initiative, promoted by the EU, which is based on the distribution of endangered species in the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, and through which key biodiversity areas (KBAs) have been geographically identified in which the degree of protection was low or non-existent.

Azevedo also explained how large gaps in knowledge about Macaronesian biodiversity and its conservation have come to light, as well as the insufficient legislative framework at regional or European level to protect many of the threatened species existing in this ecoregion. In his opinion, “if we want to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe, investment in basic science and monitoring must increase, and the conservation of biodiversity must be a priority for Europe”.

At the same time, Francisco Otero Ferrer presented another oral communication within a session dedicated to marine ecology, focusing on the environmental factors affecting the structure and functioning of rhodolith seabeds on different islands of the eastern Atlantic, including Madeira (Portugal), Gran Canaria (Spain) and Príncipe (Republic of São Tome and Príncipe, located in the Gulf of Guinea).

During the study carried out by this Galician researcher, the depth of the rhodoliths was evaluated on the three islands. The results showed that, in all environments, ocean currents affect the shape and size of rhodoliths in shallower areas, while at depth the most important factor affecting these algae is the loss of light.

The study also showed that the islands are excellent natural laboratories for carrying out this type of research.



The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2019

Nature is in a dangerous and unprecedented decline. Biodiversity shows a declining trend at rates unprecedented in human history.  The rates of species extinctions and the trends of ecosystem degradation / destruction are accelerating, with tremendous impacts on the numerous Ecosystem Services used by people around the world.

This is what emerges from the 2019 Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), dopted at its 7th Plenary Meeting held between 29 April and 4 May 2019; a study with clear alarming data on the World Nature Health.

The IPBES 2019 Report is the most comprehensive ever completed.  It has been compiled by 145 expert experts from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors. It is the first intergovernmental report of its kind and it was built on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, presented by the United Nation, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence at local, regional and global levels.

The IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson, following the presentation of this report, said that “the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the foundations of our economies, livelistyles, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” He added that “this Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global”.

The global assessment confirms that over the last 50 years biodiversity and ecosystem services, essential for human existence and well-being, are deteriorating globally and at a faster rate than ever before: 75% of the Earth’s surface has been significantly altered; over 85% of the surface of wetlands has been lost and 66% of the ocean surface is experiencing cumulative effects. Some 25% of animal and plant species assessed are threatened (over 40% of amphibians, almost 33% of reef corals and over a third of marine mammals, among other results). More than 9% of domesticated mammal breeds became extinct by 2016 and at least 1,000 more breeds are threatened.

The Officer of the MOVE project at the European Commission praises the work done in the preparatory phase

Karine Zaunberger, who is the officer responsible for monitoring the MOVE project within the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment, gave a very positive assessment of the work carried out in the first year of this initiative, which seeks to map the ecosystem services in the Outermost Regions (ORs) and other Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) associated with the EU. Zaunberger attended the annual meeting of the MOVE Consortium that took place between 26th and 27th of May 2019 in the Canary Islands (Spain) at the Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Zaunberger said she was very happy to see “how the MOVE project was already on track and is gathering pace”. The main initial work, she explained, has already been done, and the two meeting days in Gran Canaria have allowed, with all participants contributions, to specify the criteria for the choice of case studies and, most importantly, to choose the firsts ones where they will perform the mapping and evaluation of ecosystem services within the ORs and OCTs of the European Union.

During her interview, Karine Zaunberger underlined that the MOVE project “is very special, because it is not a simple research project”, she explained, “having been born from the motivation and demand of actors who have managed to attract the attention of members of the European Parliament and who represent the outermost and most remote regions of the EU”.

She reminded that this project would not have existed without the precedent NetBiome Consortium (Network of actors from Outermost Regions and Overseas Territories and Countries), whose final conference took place in Brussels, where it was conjured to keep working for biodiversity in these territories. At European level, good work already exists within the framework of the European Union’s biodiversity strategy for the mapping and evaluation of ecosystem services, but it did not include the ORs and OCTs of the EU.

Hence, she remarked, the promotion from Brussels of the union of the experiences of the ESMERALDA Project (coordinated by the University of Hanover) and the stakeholders of all the member states from the so-called EU Overseas (the NetBiome partnership) far from the European mainlands. “There we got a small – large network scheme, in which it could already be seen that there was a vibrant energy”, said the EU Officer, “with teams involved and a very open mind”. After this, obviously, there was the fact that the members of the European Parliament representing the outermost and remote territories managed to generate a pilot project, that is, guarantee funds to start this work.

It was the MOVE Consortium that won the European tender that Karine Zaunberger herself supervises. “I am impressed with the work done and the ambition shown to achieve the results, how they have set out to do something and what they are achieving,” she says. However, “I still perceive a certain timidity and I know that more can be done and that there is still a lot to be done, but the potential there is really spectacular”. For Zaunberger, the work done already makes it possible to think of the conclusion of the preparatory phase and to start the practical work, the work in the field, which he wished would allow them to “identify more stakeholders”.

The European official responsible pointed out that a second tender is currently pending, the date of which expired on 30 April last and for which two bids have been submitted”.


Electronic Forum

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

Electronic Forum