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.
The European Union will finance a total of seven 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, Sint Maarten and Falkland Islands.. The projects are of 18 months duration, he details, so that “at the end of the cycle we will have interesting results to share”.
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.
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.
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”.
At this meeting, twenty experts from seven European Union countries will assess the progress made in this project, which aims to involve policy-makers, researchers and civil society in the development of various methodologies aimed at mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems in the ORs and OCTs
The Faculty of Marine Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in Canary Islands, Spain, is hosting today and tomorrow the second meeting of the members of MOVE, an international project that aims to involve policy-makers, researchers and civil society in the development of various methodologies aimed at mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems in the Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
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 the ULPGC through the Atlantic Biodiversity and Sustainability Association (ABAS) and the University Institute of Aquaculture and Sustainable Marine Ecosystems (IU-ECOAQUA).
The EU Biodiversity Strategy calls on Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory, to support regional policies in overseas Europe by mobilising local actors and speeding up the pooling of resources.
At this MOVE meeting taking place in Gran Canaria, around twenty experts from seven European Union countries will assess the progress made by each of them in the project, which will run until 2021 and in which 14 organisations, most of them universities and research centres, are taking part.
The environmental values of Europe’s Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories often go unnoticed, both locally and at European level. The 9 ORs are territories located at a great distance from continental Europe, although they are a substantial part of the Member States, while the 25 OCTs are characterised by their specific links with the respective EU countries.
All these European territories are unique cases. Most of them are islands scattered around the globe and have a particularly unique flora and fauna, accounting for 70% of Europe’s biodiversity and 20% of the world’s coral reefs and coastal lagoons. They include very diverse ecosystems, usually on a very small scale, coral reefs and mangroves, tropical rainforests and mountain ecosystems, or polar and sub-polar seas. They all provide multiple ecosystem services, of great local and global relevance.
MOVE involves a wide range of organizations. Spain is integrated with 3 universities: the ULPGC, the University of La Laguna and the Autonomous University of Madrid. France participates with 4 collaborating institutions: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Universite de La Réunion, Nova Blue Enviroment (NEB) and Centre de Coopération Internationale Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement (CIRAD). Italy participates through the Universidad degli Studi di Trento, while the Netherlands participates with Wolfs Company and the Institute of Environmental Studies of the Faculty of Sciences of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In addition, Germany is integrated into the project through Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH) and the United Kingdom through the University of Porstmouth and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI). Finally, the project coordinator is the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT) of the Regional Government of the Azores (Portugal).
This line of work by MOVE, coordinated by L’Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) as requested by the direction of the project, set the goal of having a minimum of 30 surveys in each of the European Union’s outermost regions and overseas territories, to establish an initial diagnosis of the situation and the mapping of marine ecosystems
One of the initial objectives of the MOVE project was to carry out a survey among 1179 actors from those territories far from the European continent related with the maritime sector, in order to set, with the answers obtained, an initial diagnosis of the situation of their maritime environments and the mapping of their marine ecosystems. 996 of them confirmed the reception of the survey.
As is well known, the MOVE project brings together 14 partners representing three overseas territories and countries (New Caledonia, the Netherlands Antilles and the territories of the United Kingdom in the southwest Atlantic) and five outermost regions (Réunion, the Canary Islands, the Azores, Martinique, and French Guiana). Only three months after the dissemination of the surveys to the different members of MOVE, the goal of having a minimum of 30 questionnaires filled in per territory is close to be achieved. The data will provide critical information to compose a realistic state of affairs for each of them.
Among the 996 actors that confirmed the reception of the survey there are public administrations, organizations, companies, and institutions linked to the marine sector who were asked to respond to a questionnaire agreed by the entities responsible for the project, sent both in paper and digital format and which had an impact on several key aspects in 22 questions.
Specifically, the surveys make it possible to extract information on proximity to ecosystem services (2 questions), work carried out on their ecosystems (8 questions), work related to ecosystem services and existing research projects on ecosystem services and participants’ expectations with the MOVE project (4 questions).
In regions such as the Canary Islands, Réunion, French Guiana, New Caledonia, and the Netherlands Antilles, the objective has already been achieved or is close to be. To date, the project has already received 187 completed surveys, which represents a response rate of almost 19% written and oral in relation with those received, and is expected to continue to receive responses from partners.
The IPBES secretariat, as part of its work on capacity-building, has launched the IPBES webinar series to provide learning resources for those involved in, or wanting to learn more about, the work of the Platform.
As part of the series, they have recorded a number of webinars presenting the key findings of the Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Models and the four Regional Assessments of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The webinars, presented by the Assessment co-chairs, are aimed at policymakers, practitioners, civil society organisations, students and everyone else interested in learning about the Assessments’ findings. They have been created to familiarise audiences with the Assessment Reports and stimulate interest in accessing the Summaries for Policymakers (SPMs) and the full Assessment Reports.
The recordings of all webinars in the series are made available as a learning resource on the IPBES website: https://www.ipbes.net/webinars, and you can access the newly released webinars directly through the links below:
IPBES Regional Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Africa
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-ipbes-regional-assessment-report-africa
Presenters: Emma Archer and Luthando Dziba
IPBES Regional Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for the Americas
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-ipbes-regional-assessment-report-americas-0
Presenter: Jake Rice
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-ipbes-regional-assessment-report-americas-spanish
Presenter: Maria Elena Zaccagnini
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-ipbes-regional-assessment-report-americas-portuguese
Presenter: Cristiana Simão Seixas
IPBES Regional Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Asia and the Pacific
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-series-ipbes-regional-assessment-report-asia-pacific
Presenters: Madhav Karki and Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu
IPBES Regional Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-series-ipbes-regional-assessment-report-europe-central-asia
Presenters: Markus Fischer and Mark Rounsevell
IPBES Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Accessible here: https://www.ipbes.net/ipbes-webinar-series-webinar-ipbes-methodological-assessment-scenarios-models
Presenter: Simon Ferrier
MOVE project updates will be presented in the next MAES Working Group meeting, scheduled for September 25th in Brussels, at the Directorate-General for Environment (DG Environment) of the European Commission, responsible for the European Union policy area of the environment.
Being at the core of the EU´Biodiversity Strategy, Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) across EU countries is an important stepping stone towards the achievement of a sustainable future for Europe.
Our partner Benjamin Burkhard, from LUH (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover), will be representing MOVE on this meeting.
Professor Burkhard is the former coordinator of the EU Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action ESMERALDA, with project partners in all 28 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and Israel. Many ESMERALDA partners are now involved in MOVE, bringing their experience and methodological expertise to strengthen the network in its implementation of MAES in the EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories.
The first meeting of the partners belonging to the MOVE project took place at the end of May 2018 in the city of Ponta Delgada located in San Miguel Island (Azores, Portugal) under the guidance of the coordinator of the project, the Fundo Regional para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FRCT) of the Azores Regional Government.
The European Union Biodiversity Strategy urges Member States to map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services in their national territory.
MOVE will implement during three years a pilot project which intends to involve policy makers, researchers and the civil society in the development of these methodologies in outermost regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). Organizations from France (4), Spain (3), Holland (2), UK (2), Portugal (1), Italy (1) and Germany (1) participate in MOVE.
During the different sessions that took place in the Azores, the representatives of the 14 partners had the chance to review and discuss about the project objectives, how to implement the main tasks and the chronogram of activities. After two days meeting and intense exchange of information and ideas, the consortium identified the major deliverables that will arise at the end of the MOVE project.