CEH is involved in a number of cross-European partnerships and initiatives – international collaboration is a major feature of our science. One such initiative is ALTER-Net (a Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network), which comprises 26 partner institutes from 18 European countries. ALTER-Net integrates research capacities across Europe: assessing changes in biodiversity, analysing the effect of those changes on ecosystem services and informing policy makers and the public about this at a European scale.
Together with the European Commission, ALTER-Net has organized a major conference which has been taking place in Ghent, Belgium this week, during which participants are discussing the implementation of the 2020 European Biodiversity Strategy. Specifically, conference members are looking for scientifically sound, evidence-based recommendations on how to implement and realize the strategy. More than 200 scientists from 66 research institutes and more than 25 countries are taking part – not only is CEH among those helping to organise the event, along with Belgian lead organisers INBO, we also have scientists speaking during the main programme, and have organised some of the side events.
The location for the conference is an Augustinian monastery, probably an ideal place to “retreat” to for focused thought and discussion (the whole conference lasts for four days).
The conference recommendations will be presented to EU policy makers and it is expected they will form a starting point for the European Platform on Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) meeting to be held under the Irish EU Presidency in Dublin in May.
Why an EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy?
After the overall failure of the previous European strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010, the EU adopted a new strategy in 2011, with a 2050 vision and a 2020 headline target. This 2020 target was defined as:
"Halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss."
The EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy includes six mutually supportive and interdependent targets that respond to the objectives of the 2020 headline target:
- Conserving and restoring nature
- Maintaining and enhancing ecosystems and their services
- Ensuring the sustainability of agriculture, forestry and fisheries
- Combating invasive alien species
- Addressing the global biodiversity crisis
- Contributions of other environmental policies and initiatives
In a series of workshops, groups of scientists and policy makers will discuss the targets, before presenting their recommendations during the final plenary session on Thursday afternoon (April 18 2013).
More about the conference can be found on the ALTER-Net website. Dr Terry Parr from CEH was one of the speakers during Tuesday morning's plenary session on "Biodiversity, ecosystems and sustainability - how to maintain, enhance and convince in the future". Others taking part in the session included the Finnish research institute SYKE, IRSTEA of France, the European Commission's DG Environment, and the University of Paris-Sud. On Wednesday, Dr Helen Roy of CEH will take part in a session focused on invasive alien species, while on the same day Dr Andrew Sier of CEH leads a side event which will look at developing new initiatives for ALTER-Net to undertake.