More than 90 participants from 22 European countries participated in the DaRe to Connect Scientific Conference - “Science in Support of Ecological Networks – Lessons learned from the European Green Belt” hold on April 15, 2021 online. The aim of the conference was to present achievements and outputs of the Interreg Project “DaRe to Connect”. The project was launched in 2018 and focuses on strengthening the transnational ecological connectivity along the European Green Belt, the 12.500 km long ecological network and memorial landscape along the former Iron Curtain. It crosses all European biogeographical regions and is a treasure chest for biodiversity. The project is financed by the Danube Transnational Programme.
The DaRe to Connect project was implemented by 11 organizations from 8 countries, led by the BUND Naturschutz in Bayern e.V. – Department Green Belt. In the last 3 years, they collaborated on implementing innovative technical approaches using remote sensing data for the analyses of the ecological connectivity and the potential of ecosystem services (ESS) of the European Green Belt. Outcomes of those analyses served for the elaboration of specific guidelines and recommendations on the planning and creation of ecological corridors on the transnational and regional level. National, regional and local stakeholders of 6 pilot regions were involved in discussing and finalizing the guidelines in order to implement them in their decision-making processes and landscape management.
The conference was divided into two parts. During the morning session technical aspects, methods and results of the project were presented. The speakers introduced the habitat classification using Sentinel-2 Data in combination with European Ecosystem type map and future opportunities of COPERNICUS Land Monitoring Services, the analysis of multifunctionality using an ESS capacity matrix and of connectivity using GUIDOS Toolbox & Connectivity-Functionality-Index. Related applications of methods were presented on the examples of the VivaGrass and the MaGICLandscapes projects and the analysis of Habitat corridors by the example of the Alpine-Carpathian River Corridor Project.
The afternoon part was more practical: allparticipants were divided into three breakout groups to discuss different topics concerning the practical applications of the project results:
Flagship Species – „Do multifunctional corridors have a ‚windfall effect‘ on Flagship Species?”.
The balance between functionality and species protection shown by concrete examples for the conservation of species
Improving the knowledge basis – „Effective habitat linkage: Is our data basis good enough?” Possibilities of improvement (national & regional data sets, landscape potential via historic maps, new mapping data, etc.) Methodology of the Alpine-Carpathian River Corridor Project.
Current application projects – „Connecting habitats, landscapes and protected areas along the EGB – How could it work?”
Example of Cross-linking of habitats in the Region Bavarian Forest
Video recordings of the conference.
The project still continues with follow-up activities. Due the COViD-19 it was prolonged to November 2021.
The project leader Martin Kuba (BUND Naturschutz in Bayern e.V. – Department Green Belt) presenting project goals and framework: