The European Union is about to release a revised version of the Directive on renewable energy. The directive aims at doubling the current production of renewable energy by 2030, i.e. the provision of solar, wind, hydroelectric and bioenergy energy. Renewable is ‘good’, so it seems we are undertaking a new step towards sustainability and a green future- All really noble, but are we sure we are doing the right thing?
Credits – Valerio Giacomini (1958) La Flora – Conosci L’italia, Touring Club Italiano. Milano
It’s a fact. Biodiversity is not uniformly distributed over the Earth’s surface. Some regions are lush with a rich, heterogeneous flora, others are homogeneously covered by only a few plant species. A recurrent pattern is the decrease of the number of animal and plant species from the equator to the poles, as well as from to low to high elevation. What happens when rather than considering the number of species, one focuses on the variability in species composition (=beta-diversity) and compares this variability across geographical regions?
We have just published a new study in Ecography to understand how beta-diversity varies along elevation gradients. There is evidence that, similarly to species richness, beta-diversity also decreases with increasing elevation and latitude. But what are the mechanisms behind this pattern?
There’s a lot of stir around old-growth forests lately. After spending the last two years collecting data about their distribution in Europe (not just on old-growth to be sincere, but I don’t want to reopen the terminological Pandora box), performing a massive literature review, bothering hundreds of forest experts all over the continent, and building a network of researchers willing to share their data, we think we can say a word or two on the topic. It seems that some agencies, institutions, and NGOs are also starting to realize that, if you want to protect the last old-growth forest of Europe, you need to know where they are. That’s why the NGO Wild Europe got in touch with us and invited us to contribute to the Conference for the protection of old-growth forest in Europe (Brussels, 13-14th September 2017).
Wild Europe defines this ‘A conference for practical action’. The idea is to gather all the people interested in the protection of old-growth forests to agree on practical actions that address all aspects of an agenda to protect and restore old-growth forests. In short, develop a protection strategy, and find a way to implement it. Of course, to protect something, you first need to know where it is. So, Wild Europe invited us to present our ‘Map of primary forests of Europe’ over the conference. We will give some anticipations of our findings, waiting for the scientific paper to be published in the scientific literature.
See you there?
What if I told you that there’s an industry that relies on the customer’s free-of-charge labour for the selection of products to be sold, the production itself as well as quality management, and that this industry is even able to sell the ‘products’ produced this way to the same customers for an exorbitant price and earning a huge profit?
You would say that something is wrong.
Credits: Ana Marin, University of Malaga
Inventorying and mapping virgin forests in Europe is not just an interesting research exercise, or a conservation priority. In regions such as the Carpathians, where a considerable fraction of European virgin forest still can be found, the identification and protection of primary forests is formally required by an important regional international treaty. We’re referring to the Carpathian Convention. Signed in May 2003 by seven Carpathian States (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine), the Carpathian Convention recognizes at the Art. 10 of the Protocol on Sustainable Forest management that ‘Each Party shall take measures in its national territory aimed at identifying and protecting natural, especially virgin forests of the Carpathians […]’. In this context, the mapping effort of FORESTS&CO could not pass unobserved by the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention (SCC).
Venacquaro Valley, Gran Sasso National Park. Ph. D. Di Santo
Here’s another piece of news relative the LIFE+ project – FAGUS, a project I collaborated with from 2013-2015. The Italian Ministry of the Environment elected FAGUS as Project of the Month – Jan 2017, and published a long press release summarizing objectives, actions and achievements of FAGUS.
The press release can be found at the url (only in Italian, unfortunately):
Congratulations to all the staff of FAGUS!
Tuesday 11 Oct 2017, the staff of Radio Colonia, the show in Italian language of the German Radio station Funkhaus Europa, interviewed Sabina Burrascano our colleague from Sapienza, University of Rome, on the content of our latest paper titled: ‘Current European policies are unlikely to jointly foster carbon sequestration and protect biodiversity‘.
Listen to the interview (in Italian) on Radio Colonia:
See also the description of the study in a recent blog post.
Photo credits: Sabina Burrascano
We’ve just published a new paper: ‘Current European policies are unlikely to jointly foster carbon sequestration and protect biodiversity‘ on ‘Biological Conservation’ together with an international, interdisciplinary research group from five universities.
Is there the risk that European carbon policies may threaten grassland biodiversity? In the paper we raised the concern that carbon centered policies favouring one land-use (i.e. forest) over another (e.g. semi-natural grasslands) may not only fail at delivering the expected environmental benefits, but also create severe shortcomings, when biodiversity or other unique ecosystem services are considered. Given the context of high scientific uncertainty, we asked, what’s the situation in Europe? Do the current environmental policy acknowledge these uncertainties and balance coherently different environmental goals?
Err… not exactly…
Photo Credits: Daniele Di Santo
I have already mentioned the FAGUS project in a previous post (“The mess of sampling biodiversity”, where I described the results we obtained when analyzing the pre-intervention biodiversity data, as they are published in the paper (open access):
I just got a great news today from the staff of the LIFE+ project – FAGUS, Daniele Di Santo (Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park) and Sabina Burrascano (Sapienza, University of Rome). A pair of individuals of Rosalia alpina were found in one of the intervention areas of the project. Read below!
We’ve recently come back from the Bieszczady Mountains, a mountain range that runs from the extreme south-east of Poland through Ukraine and Slovakia, and is part of the Outer Eastern Carpathians. For those who believe that not much wilderness remains in Europe, then I warmly recommend a visit to these places. Bears, big packs of wolves and herds of free-ranging bisons, all can be encountered in the forests and meadow in the area, as long as one is willing to get up before the birds and wait patiently in one of the little wood hunting towers spread in the area.
Observing the wilderness, however, was not the only reason why us, the Conservation Biogeography Lab took our students there. Indeed, the Bieszczady Mts are a great place to get some hands-on experience on how to collect field data in biogeography, as this is the core of the Field Methods in Biogeography class, taught yearly by Prof. Tobias Kuemmerle and Laura Kehoe.
What’s impressive about the Bieszczady Mts is how they put you in touch with both Nature and History, and how the two combined into a great land-use science experiment.