This Tuesday and Wednesday, the 8th and 9th of november, we (Pauline Coiffard and Juliane Genn) got the possibility to join the Annual Meeting of Eurosite ‘16. This year’s theme “Ecosystems at your service: how to incorporate ecosystem services into practical site management” is not only presented and discussed in a seminar on the first day of the Annual Meeting but also during an excursion to Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece.
We started the day with plenary session in which different guests speakers explained their views and definitions of what is Ecosystem services and how we can use this concept for concrete environmental cases in companies, NGO’s and Public Services.
The first speaker, Ben Delbaere, Head of Programme Operations (ECNC - European Centre for Nature Conservation) defined ecosystem service as “the direct & indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being” and explains us, with examples of models, how we managed (the stakeholders) to put a price of nature.
The second speech we got to hear, which was delivered by Irene Bouwa from Alterra, gave us a Nature Outlook for 2050. For this, she presented four different possible developments: strengthening cultural identity, allowing nature to find its way, going with the economic flow and working with the nature; and she finished with the conclusion that it is not easy to combine all these perspectives. Furthermore another obstacle is that no one has only one point of view on this matter and this because we do not even agree on what is the nature we want to preserve: is it the flowers on your balcony? A natural park that had been shaped by mankind? Is an highway somehow nature?
Does it has to be untouched by men to be nature or are we as humans part of the ecosystem services that we value, and if so why are infrastructures not being considered as nature as well? We went out of the second speech with more questions than we had while entering it.
The third presentation was given by Paul Leadbitter who is the Peatland Programme Manager from the North Pennines AONB Partnership in the UK. He pointed out the importance of peat and presented the efforts of his company to protect and restore the peat in Britain. Peat is a soil that contains a high proportion of organic matter which is able to restore emissions of CO²:
After a little coffee break those theoretical presentations we shared some practical examples.
After a very pleasant lunch break, all the participants were separated into 3 differents workshops:
Finally we went back to plenary session to talk about the key outcomes and seminar conclusion of the intense day!
The next day a field trip to Lake Kerkini was organized and hosted by the Management Body of Kerkini Lake National Park. We started the day by going into the wetland of the lake to observe flamingos and water buffalos. After we went to visit Saint Jones Women Monastery with a great view over the lake, then we went to the tourist office to meet some of the scientists who work to protect the ecosystem of the artificial lake, which is one of the greatest birding site in Greece.
Actually the lake hosts 227 kinds of birds, especially non-migrants. 76 of them are recorded in the National Red Catalogue. What makes an exceptional presence is the buffalo's herd in the area.In the surrounding area of Kerkini lake there are at least 10 amphibian species (frogs, salamanders, tritons), five snail species, 19 reptile species (lizards, snakes, turtles) and a great variety of insects which play an important part in the food chain and contribute towards the biological resources of the lake.
After another pleasant lunch the planned boat tour on lake Kerkini had to be cancelled due to the weather. Instead we returned to Serres by bus on a way right next to the lake where we also had a little stop to enjoy the sunset and to observe pelicans.