All posts by Karl Donert

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NATURA 2000 site at risk in Italy

Organisations for the protection of the environment take action

site satellite imageAs a whole, Nature 2000 sites in Italy protect 130 habitats, 89 species of flora and 111 species of fauna (of which 21 mammals, 11 reptiles, 16 amphibians, 25 fish, 38 invertebrates) and about 381 bird species.

Lake Vico is a Natura 2000 site created in a caldera lake in the northern Lazio region, central Italy. It is one of the highest major Italian lakes, with an altitude of 510 m. Administratively, it is part of the municipalities of Caprarola and Ronciglione.

The area is famous for its extensive Beech forest, which is one of the most southerly in Europe. The elevation, plus the surrounding sides of the crater, create conditions cool enough for the continued survival of the trees. A large part of the northern side of the crater is a Natura 2000 nature reserve to protect this forest.

The area is rich in biodiversity and consists of many protected areas, parks and natural reserves. Its habitats and species are so important that Lake Vico has been classified as a Natura 2000 site. Natura 2000 is a network of areas protected by the EU. vico image

However, Lake Vico, is currently at risk due to the intensive cultivation of hazelnuts by one of the giants of the world confectionery industry.

For this reason Client Earth and Lipu Birdlife Italy have decided to denounce the Lazio Region and to report its non-compliance with EU regulations.

“If we want to be able to successfully farm into the future, we need the public administrations to step in now to stop the area and its biodiversity from degrading irreversibly. If they don’t, intensive farming is going to wreck nature’s ability to provide for communities in the years ahead – and it’s depriving residents of safe drinking water today. That’s why we’re taking action.”

Find out more

Satellite image source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82054 (Public Domain)

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Life and Natura 2000 now 30 years old

The LIFE Programme and Natura 2000 have reached the age of 30.

On 21 May 1992, the then European Economic Community passed two laws that would forever change the face of nature conservation, the Habitats Directive and the LIFE Regulation, which established the LIFE Programme. The Habitats Directive also established the Europe-wide ecological network of protected areas called Natura 2000.

The LIFE Programme has co-financed conservation actions on more than 6 000 Natura 2000 sites –roughly 20% of the entire network. It has also doubled the size of the marine Natura 2000 network over the past five years. €3 billion has been spent on 1 800 nature and biodiversity projects. LIFE projects have safeguarded some 750 species. Also, LIFE has purchased around 200 000 hectares of land across the EU – this land is protected indefinitely.newsletter-cover

30 years on, Natura 2000 forms the backbone of EU nature conservation policy. It is the world’s largest coordinated network of legally protected areas and covers 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 9% of its sea area. Natura 2000 is vital for the successful implementation of the European Green Deal.

The Natura 2000 Newsletter is published twice a year, provides up to date information on activities, events and initiatives on the EU’s biodiversity policy and the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.

The newsletter is free and is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Polish both in pdf format and in printed version. Subscribe to the newsletter

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GEOLAND at the United Nations

GEOLAND Project members participated and presented the project at the Twelfth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) at t5he UN Headquarters in New York.policy graphic

The twelfth session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held from 3 – 5 August 2022.

UN-GGIM, comprises experts designated by the Governments of Member States. It seeks to promote international cooperation in global geospatial information management and provide a forum for coordination and dialogue among Member States, and between Member States and relevant international organisations.

As the relevant inter-governmental body on geospatial information in the United Nations, UN-GGIM reports on all matters relating to geography, geospatial information and related topics to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). unggim-photo

As an NGO with consultative status in the United Nations, GEOLAND project partner EUROGEO participates in debates and discussions related to topics such as environment, data, smart city developments and actions concerning  the Sustainable Development Goals.

The GEOLAND Project is relevant to the work of UN-GGIM as it deals with the concepts, data, tools and technologies concerning the monitoring of landscapes based on the rules of the European Landscape Convention (ELC). As a result the project aims to educate, inform and advise students and their professors concerning the policy implications of undertaking landscape monitoring and assessment. GEOLAND will help students and professors to comprehend the problems that arise from heterogeneous applications of ELC and suggest possible solutions to these issues.unggim-graphic

The GEOLAND project also seeks to reinforce European Policy in landscape conservation as well as national and local actions regarding the implementation of the European Landscape Convention.

GEOLAND will seek to provide essential recommendations for policy makers and maintain a dialogue with relevant stakeholders, open for future development. The GEOLAND methodology employed is eventually expected to constitute a road map for relevant studies not only in Europe but also worldwide.

Explore the EUROGEO presentation introducing international policy dimensions in landscape monitoring and geospatial technologies, from the UN to the Council of Europe.

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GEOLAND to be presented at the United Nations

UNGGIM logoMembers of the European Association of Geographers, Karl Donert, Rafael de Miguel (UNIZAR) and Luc Zwartjes (University of Ghent) will participate and share experiences and expertise about the GEOLAND Project at the United Nations during the Twelfth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) in New York in August 2022.

meeting-imageThe Committee of Experts UN-GGIM was established as the key intergovernmental mechanism for making joint decisions and setting directions with regard to the production, availability and use of geospatial information within national, regional and global policy frameworks.

Led by United Nations Member States, UN-GGIM aims to address global challenges regarding the use of geospatial information, including in the development agendas, and to serve as a body for global policymaking in the field of geospatial information management.

UN-GGIM aims at playing a leading role in setting the agenda for the development of global geospatial information and to promote its use to address key global challenges.

It provides a forum to liaise and coordinate among Member States, and between Member States and international organisations.

Download the GEOLAND session concept note published as part of the UN-GGIM official program

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Land Cover Datasets Book now available

A new book supporting the landscape work of teachers, students and researchers has beendatasets book cover image published by Springer. The publication is freely available for download as a pdf or as an EPUB.

The book “Land Use Cover Datasets and Validation Tools Validation Practices with QGIS” develops concepts on land use data and provides lessons using the open source QGIS software.

QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system application that supports viewing, editing, printing, and analysis of geospatial data.

According to the publishers, this represents an up-to-date comprehensive review of theory and techniques to validate land-use cover information. It provides detailed tutorials to easily apply most of the available validation techniques in open access GIS software, shows detailed review of Land Use Cover data currently available at global and continental scales and is freely available to all readers, as this book is open access.

The book editors are David García-Álvarez, María Teresa Camacho Olmedo, Martin Paegelow and Jean François Mas.

Further details and download options are available at https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-90998-7

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Natura 2000 network biodiversity maps for Spanish regions

The Natura 2000 protected area network is the EU’s flagship biodiversity
conservation initiative.methodology chart

Stretching over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 8% of its marine territory, Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

A Natura 2000 Viewer has been developed as an online tool that presents all Natura 2000 sites. It provides key information on designated species and habitats, data on population sizes and information on conservation status. The viewer can be used for general purposes or for more specific searches.Leon maps

A research study focused on the autonomous communities (regions) of Andalucía and Castillia y León in Spain. It was based on the Spanish National Biodiversity Inventory, which uses a grid made up of 10-kilometre squares to record species presence across the country.

Data was  also gathered from the Corine Land Cover inventory, public administrations’ cartographic information of the protected areas under the EU’s Habitats Directive, and all the protected species from the Habitats and Birds Directives and critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species from the National Catalogue of Endangered Species, to produce a value of importance for biodiversity (VIB) score for every grid square.

The maps were then used to construct four different scenarios for levels of protected-area networks.

Find out more about the study and how the VIB was calculated and the results of the research – Download the research paper

Download the network proposal research paper

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GEOLAND Handbook : Technical Annex available

method diagramThe GEOLAND Project recently published, in partner languages, an Educational Handbook for monitoring European Landscape.  To complement this document a Technical Annex has been produced to provide details of the five methodological stages important for Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) by using GIS and public participation.

The five stages are:

i) Purpose definition
ii) Desk-based data collection
iii) Field-based data collection
iv) Classification and
v) Overall evaluation

They are dealt with in detail, offering information, advised, resources and tools to carry out a Landscape Character Assessment on Natura 2000 or other sites of interest.

Examples of site selection, desk-based collected datasets, approaches for field study and landscape character recognition are provided.

Monitoring and protecting the Landscape is a crucial environmental goal. The handbook and technical annex will help to enable the uptake of novel ways to engage and empower students in environmental science and other disciplines and stimulate participatory decision-making. GEOLAND highlights the fact that students and, in general, citizens can in fact have a real impact in environmental monitoring and landscape management.

Download the GEOLAND Technical Annex

The Annex is also available in partner languages-  Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek, Spanish

Educational Handbook published

The vision of the GEOLAND project is to establish and promote the effective participation of Higher Education (HE) institutions in monitoring actions leading to influencing decision-making for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (ELC).handbook cover image

With this in mind the project has published an Educational Handbook with state-of-the-art information and materials on learning and teaching perspectives, methodologies including citizen science, and Landscape Character Assessment related to the European Landscape Convention.

The Educational Handbook can be downloaded in English, Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish, from https://www.geolandproject.eu/outputs/

A Technical Annex to the Handbook will shortly follow with examples, advice and guidance on the teaching and learning of the five methodological stages for Landscape Character Assessment.

Download a leaflet about the project

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Ghent University students test a new landscape assessment observation sheet

As part of the GeoLand project students of Ghent University geography department went beginning May 2022 on a terrain study at the Damvallei, an area near Ghent with a variety of values and land uses, but also registered as Natura 2000 sites.

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The area is an old meander of the Scheldt river near Ghent, cut into four by two motorways and because of its proximity to the city with a multitude of space users.

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Nevertheless, a large part is still very valuable biologically (green to dark green), so that parts of it became a Natura 2000 area (orange areas on the map).

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The GeoLand project wants to involve higher education students in the study and appreciation of these landscapes. As a first step, the students did a reconnaissance by investigating different cells within the area grid.

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They used a research sheet developed by Prof. Van Eetvelde (UGent).
Download the Observation Sheet

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The next step will be to map all the collected information on a GIS platform.

Find out more about the GeoLand project 

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European Natura 2000 day

Did you know that in 2017, 21st May was declared as the “European Natura 2000 day”?

The GeoLand Project seeks to establish a learning path for Higher Education students and their professors so that they are able to apply their geospatial analysis and knowledge in decision-making for landscape management, planning and protection of NATURA 2000 sites across Europe.

30 years ago, in 1992, the European Union adopted the EU Habitats Directive and the LIFE programme. This pioneering piece of legislation gave birth to the EU wide Natura 2000 Network, the world’s largest coordinated network of protected areas.

natura 2000 logoThe Natura 2000 network consists of Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Marine Protected Areas around Europe. Today, Natura 2000 consists of more than 27,800 sites across the EU‘s land and seas. The Network stretches over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 9% of its marine territory and protects our unique natural heritage.

The European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council Presidency and the Committee of the Regions made the decision to establish Nature 2000 Day in order to highlight how significant it is to raise public awareness and realise that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure a well-preserved natural heritage.

Natura 2000 Day aims to make European citizens more aware of the natural riches the Natura 2000 network holds, of the conservation work they carry out and of the benefits brought by the protected nature to people and to our planet.

Download the eNatura2000 mobile AppeNatura app image

If you cannot join the Natura 2000 Day celebrations in person this year, don’t worry. Learning about Natura 2000 and connecting with the sites managers and other nature professionals has never been so easy! With the eNatura2000 mobile app, all that is just a click away.

Get timely updates from the Natura 2000 world, read inspiring case studies, network and discuss with land managers across Europe. You can download the app on Google Play and the App Store!

Follow the link to find out about the events which are organised throughout Europe to celebrate and promote the Natura 2000 Network. https://www.life-25.eu/