As has been the case around the world, daily life in Romania and the rest of Central Eastern Europe has been heavily impacted over the past months by the Covid-19 pandemic. Activities under ConnectGREEN are no exception in this regard, and numerous events and plans have had to be postponed. Where possible, however, the team sought to adapt to the new conditions and to shift their activities online.
The National Institute for Research and Development in Constructions, Urban Planning and Sustainable Spatial Development URBAN-INCERC (NIRD URBAN-INCERC) took advantage of the comparably calm summer months to attend several local and international conferences where they presented the results of the ConnectGREEN project. Insights gained on spatial planning activities, the main topic of interest of the institute, were the focus of the shared content.
The most recent event at which findings were presented was the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD), which took place online from 21-22 September 2020. Organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD), Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the Global Association’s Master Programme in Development Practice (MDP) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the conference brought together numerous stakeholders that were keen to discover and share practical solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
NIRD URBAN-INCERC presented a paper entitled ‘Methodology for identifying the ecological corridors. Case study: Planning the brown bear corridors in the Romanian Carpathians’, for which ConnectGREEN was a key driver in the research. The presentation was received with great interest by the attendees, with most questions posed at the end of the session focussed around the modes of data acquisition used. The highly international audience also showed considerable curiosity regarding the current state of ecological corridors in Romania and their inclusion in urban and spatial planning in the country.
Figure 1.: Map of the resistance of movement for the brown bear species in Romania © NIRD URBAN-INCERC
Figure 2.: Map showing ecological corridors of brown bears © NIRD URBAN-INCERC
On August 28th, NIRD URBAN-INCERC held its biannual Research Conference on Constructions, Economy of Buildings, Architecture, Urban and Territorial Development. For the first time in its history, this 18th edition took place in an online format. Among many other highly topical interventions, PhDC Oana-Cătălina Popescu gave a presentation outlining the most important conclusions of the ConnectGREEN project, which will also be featured in strategic documents at the level of the Carpathian Convention.
During the 7th edition of the Annual Scientific Communications Session of the Doctoral Schools of Urbanism and Architecture, organised by the ‘Ion Mincu’ University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest and held via ZOOM on July 22nd, NIRD URBAN-INCERC was given the opportunity to highlight initial research results on the interlinkages between Green Infrastructure and urban and spatial planning. In the presence of a large audience of mainly (doctoral) students, PhDC Oana-Cătălina Popescu presented examples of revolutionary projects of famous landscape planners in the late 19th century that anticipated ideas like Green Infrastructure, ecosystem services and sustainable development and demonstrated that Green Infrastructure must be strategically established, holistically planned and properly managed. The full article can be consulted in the journal of the doctoral school of urbanism. Attending students, many of whom did not have any particular focus on ecological connectivity issues in their studies and research to date, voiced their interest surrounding the topic and their intention to pursue it further.
Figure 3.: Historical map of the park system in Buffalo City, USA. © Wikimedia Commons
Lastly, two international exhibitions in Romania also presented opportunities to increase awareness regarding ConnectGREEN and its results:
A poster with the title ‘The city as an ecosystem: the connectivity of green infrastructures in the context of urban planning’ was featured at the 24th International Exhibition of Inventics – INVENTICA 2020, which to place in Iasi, Romania, on July 29th.
On the occasion of the 12th edition of the EUROINVENT European Exhibition of Creativity and Innovation (21-23 May 2020, Iasi, Romania), a poster on ‘A Method of ensuring ecological connectivity in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains in the context of spatial planning’ sought to engage the interest of visitors regarding ecological connectivity in the Carpathians. On the final day of the event, the President of the exhibition, together with an international jury, awarded the poster a Bronze medal.
Figure 4.: Poster exhibited at the EUROINVENT © NIRD URBAN-INCERC
Figure 5.: Diploma awarded for the poster © NIRD URBAN-INCERC
Few people have not seen their plans bulldozed or altered by the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. However, like people the world over, the project partners of ConnectGREEN have made the necessary efforts to adapt to their new working realities in order to continue striving for improved ecological connectivity in the Carpathians.