Transactional Environmental Support System
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS
Kedea Building, Tritis Septemvriou, Aristotle Univ Campus
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
€ 300 800
Basil Manos (Prof.)
Sort by EU Contribution
€ 163 195,48
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL
€ 185 538,04
€ 164 029,70
ERENA,ORDENAMENTO E GESTAO DE RECURSOS NATURAIS LIMITADA
€ 103 699,70
TERO MONOPROSOPI IKE
€ 200 978,61
EUROPEAN SUSTAINABLE USE SPECIALISTGROUP OF IUCN/SS
€ 87 500
Federation des Asssociations de Chasse et Conservation de la Faune Sauvage de l'Union Europeenne
€ 63 790
ZENON FELIKS TEDERKO
€ 99 650,30
CENTER ZA KARTOGRAFIJO FAVNE IN FLORE ZAVOD
€ 6 352,34
SZENT ISTVAN UNIVERSITY
€ 114 200,40
€ 147 851,60
DOGAL HAYATI KORUMA VAKFI
€ 77 375
INSTITUTUL NATIONAL DE CERCETARE-DEZVOLTARE DELTA DUNARII
€ 86 150,30
Grant agreement ID: 212304
1 October 2008
30 June 2011
€ 2 343 455,24
€ 1 801 111,47
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS
Protecting the environment starts at grass roots-level
Grant agreement ID: 212304
1 October 2008
30 June 2011
€ 2 343 455,24
€ 1 801 111,47
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS
Final Report Summary - TESS (Transactional Environmental Support System)
TESS assists the integration of biodiversity information from the local level into planning and land-use decisions, while at the same time encouraging local people to collect such information in order to maintain and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services. Towards this, TESS has produced:
-Analytical evidence and results from case studies in 8 countries, together with a pan-European survey (29 countries) of information flows between local actors and central planners in relation to biodiversity management decisions.
-A database of models for local ecosystem management.
-Recommendations and guidelines for biodiversity management at local level, based on how biodiversity trends relate to the different management practices across Europe.
-A design for a Transactional Environmental Support System, to support exchange of environmental information between central and local levels, as well as meeting commitments in many areas of the Convention of Biological Diversity.
- A booklet of simple policy guidelines to present all the results for policy makers.
- The organization of two technical workshops and a final conference in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Project Context and Objectives:
For the past 50 years, subsidies and market forces have encouraged intensive use of a few crop species in Europe. This degraded ecosystem services that sustained Europeans for centuries, and homogenised land-uses from whose previous diversity had bloomed our rich culture, livelihoods and nature. Species with special niches or limited ability to re-colonise have widely disappeared through habitat loss and fragmentation, and biodiversity has declined drastically at local level.
Over the same 50 years, human ability to predict has increased through the use of computers; we can now predict the development of habitats and species populations in space and time. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) have been using such predictions to constrain adverse developments (Treweek 1999). Together with regulations at EU level, including protecting 17% of Europe's area in Natura 2000, formal assessment systems may help halting biodiversity loss at continental level.
2.2 Methodological approach
TESS contends that local communities can restore environments if they are enlightened, empowered and aided by policy-makers and society as a whole. This provides scope for a transaction between governments and local communities: in order for governments to conduct complex assessments through EIAs and SEAs for developing policy and high-level plans, they need to consider the results of local decisions; in order for individuals to make small-scale assessments and decisions, they need complex knowledge that government can provide to local level. Thus:
- Central government can produce complex knowledge by collating local knowledge.
- For sustainability, central government needs to guide local actions and monitor results.
- Communities and individuals have local knowledge and capabilities (skill, cash, time).
- But they need complex knowledge to guide their actions for long-term sustainability.
The internet is the key both to the collation of local knowledge and the automatic distribution of decision support to communities and individuals. However, a system for knowledge exchange will work only if it meets social requirements, by being not merely user-friendly but also user-attractive and socially integrated both at local and at central levels. To achieve this, in the first phase of TESS we listed and analysed government information requirements at national and intermediate levels and identified practical needs and stakeholder perspectives at the local level. We also developed a database of models suitable for bio-socio-economic predictions and decision making assistance at the local and regional level in order to examine where there are gaps in the supply of models and data, compared with the demand for information.
The fundamental result is the socio-economic and technical design for a Transactional Environmental Support System (TESS) to support exchange of environmental information between central and local levels, as well as meeting commitments in many areas of the Convention of Biological Diversity. The design is being tested in a knowledge portal to continue beyond TESS (see http://www.naturalliance.eu online) towards the intelligent GIS that could exchange decision support for fine-scale mapping of decision outcomes. This approach will enable integration and delivery of formal environmental assessment systems with local knowledge and practices, through information and communication technologies, including GPS, remote/local sensing, and internet/mobile services. Results also include recommendations and policy guidelines based on how biodiversity trends relate to different practices across Europe, addressed to those involved in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies - at European, national, regional, and local levels.
However, on the way to this fundamental result we need first to consider:
- TESS reports:
i. describing information flows in relation to biodiversity management from local and regional actors to central governments;
ii. assessing local decision making processes for biodiversity management, including the use of participatory approaches;
iii. bringing these together for SEA, EIA and other environmental decision making at all levels.
- Analytical evidence and results from case studies in 8 countries, together with a pan-European survey (29 countries) of information flows between local actors and central planners in relation to biodiversity management decisions. The case studies also conducted local monitoring exercises with simple mapping tools used by citizens or citizen groups, and examined how projects to benefit biodiversity and livelihoods can be planned together with local people who wish to aid their environment because they make use of it.
-The TESS database of models that formalize knowledge for local ecosystem management, to enhance ecosystem services generating direct benefits to the manager. The models provide scope to improve the health of ecosystems at small scales. More specifically, the models provide knowledge for sustainable farming and timber production as well as maintenance and improvement of leisure objects.
- Recommendations and guidelines for policy makers in relation to biodiversity management at local level, based on how biodiversity trends relate to the different management practices across Europe.
3.1 Information requirements for environmental decision making
The TESS process involved planning and trial questionnaires at national level for 9 countries and at local level for 8 countries (Sharp et al. 2009, Hodder et al. 2009), leading to a quantification of information flows (Perella et al. 2009). The survey protocols were then refined and applied at the same levels for national administrations (30 countries), local administrations (28 countries) and local stakeholder categories. Surveys covered not only the environmental issues that respondents needed to address, but also the information they currently used to address the issues and, for administrations, other aspects of governance concerned with formal and informal environmental decision making. The surveys were restricted to rural LAU2s, defined as those where resident density did not exceed 150/km2 (except on Malta and Greek islands, where resident density was routinely at least this great).
3.1.1 The Decision-Makers
Environmental decisions may be broadly divided into two types. Formal decisions are based on statutory processes and reflect adopted policy. Some of the policy originates in the governance machinery of the European Union as Directives (e.g. on EIA and SEA) which are then implemented through national legislation which transposes their provisions into national law. Other policy originates nationally in addition to those Directives, in some cases through adoption of wider international conventions such as the CBD and in some cases through Land Use Planning legislation that is not specifically regulated at EU level. The latter policy in particular may be varied in its implementation through special rules made at various levels of government.
3.1.2 The Analytic Approach
How can TESS decide where it is most important to supply information? A major consideration must be the impact of the decisions, in terms of effect, area involved and frequency. That should involve not just decisions to prevent detrimental actions, but also aiding decisions to encourage beneficial action such as restoration work. Another consideration for the viability of a system that encourages people to transact information, is where do governments, organisations and individuals have most need for information, and what are the economic factors that are likely to support its delivery. Such economic considerations involve both public and private funding, because governments need information for policy and strategy just as individuals do for livelihoods.
Thus, information is needed on decision impacts and on information flows. A start on assessing decision impacts was made in the initial TESS work-packages, and then continued through an EU-wide survey and local case studies. While defining the routes by which information flows, there is a need also to consider their impact, which may be greatest where demand and supply are most poorly aligned, and where information generation will have the greatest benefit for policy making.
3.1.3 The Information Flow Models
The most fundamental flows of information are directions for framing regulations. Data from TESS research are combined to show this in Figure 1. EIA, SEA and CAP legislation is proposed by the European Commission and adopted by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, whereas Biodiversity Action Plans are a soft law requirement of the CBD and Land Use Planning laws are framed mostly at national level.
The low level of variation in these procedures gives little scope for analysis of best practice, but indicates that informing European Union policymakers about the effects of their policies on EIA, SEA and CAP at a local level is very important. Likewise, informing national governments about impacts of Land Use Planning is very important, partly due to their ability to make regulations on matters that are not subject to EU legislation and partly because they are able through the Council of Ministers to influence EU policy.
3.1.4 Conclusions from modeling information flows for central policy
A conclusion from Figures 1 and 3 is that much of the policy designed to ensure that the environmental impacts of formal decision-making (EIA, SEA, CAP, BAP) are assessed and acted upon is now adopted in the form of international rules and transposed into domestic legislation at national level. Thus it is policy makers at European level who have most need of information on the effectiveness of these various instruments. This underlines the importance of integration of data at European level, which is promoted through the EIONET run by European Environment Agency (EEA) as part of plans to create a Single Environment Information Space (SEIS), including a Biodiversity Information System for Europe (BISE). It is EEA that will provide information to decision makers at the European Union level and to ministries at national level, using data that are collected and maintained at national level.
However, predictive modeling for the environment requires spatially specific data, which can only be gathered at a sufficiently small scale at local level. Although remote sensing is increasingly able to supply some of this, it will be many decades before it can provide adequate data for all locations, at least in biodiversity contexts: neither satellites nor DNA sensing techniques can map flora and fauna distributions widely at the flower and insect scale. For economies of scale and as a single gateway for European level, it makes sense to integrate locally-collected environmental data at national level. Indeed, of 27 broad-based databases cited in TESS D3.3 there were 21 at national level. The UK was one of the first to have a National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and a Multi Agency Geographic Information Consortium (MAGIC) for environmental data. However, the role of regional and national government is mainly a responsible for reporting completion of statutory processes to higher levels, rather than a flow of detailed local information to central government.
The focus for LUP decisions and most projects requiring EIA is at local level, which is also where the informal decisions made by stakeholders are much more numerous than statutory decisions, although individually perhaps of less impact. What seems to be changing rapidly is for much policy-making to move to European level, albeit with data integrated at national level. However, the data from local level for integration nationally is only just starting to be organised for EEA through EIONET, although remote sensing is further forward. In both cases the main player centrally is EEA, in partnership with national governments, so these should be high-level anchors for TESS. For local level, TESS needs to service the government levels that interact most with local individual stakeholders and their representative groups, which will often be at the lowest hierarchical level of local government (LAU2 in the Eurostat classification: NUTS 2009) but sometimes (especially where there is no effective LAU2 level or the lowest level authorities have few powers or responsibilities) at LAU1.
3.2 Case studies
3.2.1 Local case studies
TESS partners were asked to develop local case studies in the local communities with which they had already conducted pilot work on decisions and information flows (Section 3.1). The studies consisted of two projects: a) the socioeconomic project and b) the mapping project. The aims of the case study projects were to test (by simulation) how best to meet local decision support needs in exchange for local monitoring that meets central policy requirements, and whether local monitoring (based on schools, local community groups or individuals motivated by use of wild resources) can meet government requirements. Such information requires mapping of ecological information, for combination with socio-economic information. The case studies also aimed at assessing local attitudes and capabilities.
184.108.40.206 Municipality of Kerkini (Greece)
The Greek Case Study focused on the Municipality of Kerkini. The Municipality of Kerkini is in northern Greece, in the Region of Central Macedonia, Prefecture of Serres and is adjacent to Lake Kerkini, which is a designated Nature Reserve.
The area covered by the municipality of Kerkini is well known for rare species of birds, either resident or passing through during the migration period. Bird watching and hunting are increasingly becoming sources of income for the locals along with the exploitation of other rare species like the water buffalos. The population of the water buffalos in Greece as a whole decreased in recent decades, while their numbers flourished especially in the Kerkini area and helped the initialization and continuation of ecotourism and recreational activities. Since they do not exist in many other habitats in Greece, they helped to keep the local population in the area without emigration. Also, the Womens' Association of Ano Poroia (a village in the Kerkini municipality) is using locally collected herbs and fruits like chamomile, oregano or wild blackberries to produce traditional dishes and beverages. The project aimed to help local people identify new sources of income related to tourism activities while protecting the area's biodiversity.
220.127.116.11 Participatory development of recreational plan on Laulasmaa Landscape Protection area (Estonia)
In the northern part of Estonia, approximately 30 km west from the Estonian capital Tallinn in the Keila Rural Municipality, is the Laulasmaa Landscape Protection Area. The area was established in 2005 to protect sandy coast with permanent vegetation, forested dunes and limestone cliff. Its total area is 42 hectares and it has become a popular recreational area among local inhabitants and visitors, although no special conditions had not been created for recreational activities (paths, ball fields, beach infrastructure etc). The project activities consisted of mapping suitable paths for recreational use with an objective to combine them with relevant protection regimes and carry out a survey among local inhabitants. The main objectives of the project were:
-to find out inhabitants'
- current uses of the area
- awareness on conservation values
- needs for information types and sources concerning the study area
- to introduce mapping results to inhabitants
- to gather feedback and input for choosing between different alternatives.
18.104.22.168 Cycle route and flooded area in Bozsva (Hungary)
Bozsva is a small village in the county of Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen in Hegykoz region in north-eastern Hungary ("Northern Hungary") on the border with Slovakia. Bozsva originally was two different villages, Kisbozsva and Nagybozsva, but in 1977 the two villages were unified. The two parts of Bozsva have not reached each other; the distance between them is 650 m. The municipality has an area of approximately 16.39 km2. The 2009 census shows there were 205 people and 103 occupied houses in Bozsva. The average household size was 2,15 people/km2. The local government is directed by five elected representatives and a mayor. Tasks of policy administration are managed by the office of district notary in Fuzeskomlos.
This year was an especially difficult year for the people of Bozsva. Heavy rains caused problems in many villages and towns in Hungary and in Bozsva there were floods too. Houses and bridges collapsed and cultivated products rotted. The flood caused problems not only in the life of the local people, but in the building of the cycling route too. The roadbed was taken away by water, so excavations had to be started to rebuild it.
22.214.171.124 Zator (Poland)
The Carp Valley region, including the Zator District, is characterized by very high nature value and a local economy based on using natural resources. Fishponds and water bodies left after gravel extraction cover over 22% of the Zator District and aquaculture has been a major sector of the study area economy for hundreds of years. The natural values linked to fishponds and water bodies within the region are the major component to a local sustainable development strategy. Therefore, the Polish TESS team intended to demonstrate the importance of accessing information about livelihoods for sustainable management of natural resources, in a way which benefits both nature and people.
126.96.36.199 Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) conservation in Holm oak montados in Southeastern Alentejo (Portugal)
The project area comprised the territory of the Portuguese municipality of Barrancos, located in SE Portugal. The municipality is economically depressed but includes areas of high natural value. The municipality of Barrancos, the central government environment administration and the more decisive stakeholders in the region are aware that conserving and increasing natural value is a key question for the future of this community. The region's socio-economic equation can be described as follows: Since the beginning of the last decade of the XXth century there was a considerable decline of the traditional systems of agriculture based on labor, that were not replaced by globally more productive systems. This was associated with a decline in population, production and employment. During this period cereal production diminished to irrelevant levels and, at the same time, cattle and iberian pig production increased. High quality, origin-certified ham and other pig products are produced in Barrancos, but agriculture based on animal production and the ham industry is not enough to generate sufficient jobs for the local population.
The specific objectives of the socio-economic project were to identify:
a) a socio-economic framework in the project region to shift the local production towards activities linked with biodiversity conservation;
b) a baseline of current local participation in biodiversity related activities;
c) the stakeholders and the possible evolution of biodiversity management governance models; and
d) the new activities emerging in the region associated with biodiversity management and their capacity to generate employment.
The general aim of the mapping project was to evaluate the ability of local non-specialist and untrained people to collect biological data. In the scope of the mapping project we also evaluated the adequacy of the hardware and software equipment used in relation to its cost, operational conditions and positioning errors. The specific objectives of the mapping project were to:
a) Compare trained professional with untrained non-professional observers in a for wild-rabbit monitoring in the study area.
b) Map the results of the test.
c) Evaluate the adequacy of the equipment used in the test.
188.8.131.52 Sfantu Gheorghe commune (Romania)
Specific objectives are:
1. to enhance knowledge and understanding of the biology of the Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) to maximize the economic potential, respectively tourism potential of this species
2. to build competence and improve practice of local product-based tourism in the Tulcea region of the Lower Danube
3. to provide a model for the development of sustainable, environmental tourism in Romania as an alternative to widely developed mass tourism.
184.108.40.206 Firtina Valley, Rize (Turkey)
Due to semi-tropical rainy weather conditions, the main economic activity in the lower plains and hills of Firtina Valley is tea cultivation. It is a traditional agricultural activity carried out on areas gained by clear cutting forest in the past. Cattle breeding is the second important economic activity in the alpine zone, especially seasonal hay cutting. Although tourism is gaining importance in the region each year, traditional income still has the higher importance.
220.127.116.11 Egirdir lake, Isparta (Turkey)
Lake Egirdir provides Isparta and Egirdir with drinking and agricultural irrigation water. Fruit cultivation, especially apple, is a common practice around the lake. With around 500,000 tons per year, 20% of the apple production of Turkey (which equals to 1% of the worldwide apple production) is done in the Egirdir Lake Basin.
Apple production is the most significant source of income in the region. The downside of this production, on the other hand, is the pollution caused by it. Indications of deterioration in the water quality in Lake Egirdir, resulting from especially from agricultural pollution, have been increasing in number and intensity. Besides the increase in biomass (pointing to euthrophication), decrease in clarity and in the amount of plankton and fish, various scientific research has shown that there has also been an increase in concentration of pesticides and heavy metals.
18.104.22.168 -Biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Frome Catchment (UK)
The case study project carried out had a strong socio-economic focus and involved the mapping and public perception of the values derived from ecosystem services in the Frome River basin, Dorset, UK. The key objective of this project was to examine the linkages between human well-being and the benefits derived from ecosystem services as perceived by the local community and other stakeholders. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques were used to elicit the relative importance of the benefits identified to the different societal sectors and to develop suitable indices to measure recreation and aesthetic value of landscapes from the community perspective.
More specifically the objectives were to:
1 Provide a measure of the value of the environment to local people, and how this varies across the landscape.
2 Identify synergies and trade-offs between different ecosystem services, and between ecosystem services and biodiversity.
3 Illustrate the impacts of potential land-use decisions on biodiversity and benefits derived from ecosystem services.
Key objectives were for:
(i) local people to map where they see deer (in their usual daily activities (strolling, driving, dog walking, riding, in the garden);
(ii) a skilled deer counter to assess where deer are;
(iii) local people to map the local habitats and where they go in their usual routines (i.e. the transect area they cover, to compare to where they see deer).
22.214.171.124 Mapping of the European Brown Hare
This case study concerned a mapping project carried out by local hunters within Germany and how it integrates into the national level. The aim of the mapping project was to demonstrate which type of information is being generated at local level by a resource beneficiary group, and how this information can meet central policy requirements at local to national level.
The local mapping project was carried out in the German Bundesland of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), in the municipality of Gehrden, within the borders a village called Leveste. The subject of the mapping was the assessment of the local European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) population on a hunting area of 792.8 ha. The mapping was carried out by local hunters and the hunting area manager.
As well as surveying local populations about education levels, digital capabilities, participation and spending in countryside activities, and attitudes to nature and conservation, those engaged in these very varied mapping and socio-economic studies were surveyed about their prior knowledge and post-project conclusions (Manou and Papathanasiou 2011). From the survey reports it was evident that local residents' motivations to participate in both the socio-economic and mapping project vary from desire to acquire new skills and knowledge to love for their community and interest in nature-related issues. Also, there was a common desire for locals across case studies to have more data regarding biodiversity (species etc.) as well as information on possible economic benefits from conserving their natural resources. More robust, continually updated and easily and freely accessed databases would be very much welcomed for the local level.
3.3 Pan-European Survey
3.3.1 Methods and results
The areas that partners selected for local case studies might have been unusual in respects such as attitudes to biodiversity conservation, either through prior contact with partner institutes or having less intensively-used habitats. So although these areas were important for intensive case studies and piloting questions on information flows, decisions, governance and attitudes, they were study sites for obtaining qualitative rather than quantitative findings. The local areas piloted questionnaires that were then revised to remove redundancies and ambiguities, and applied to 30 national governments and 28 local governments across Europe (Kenward et al. 2010).
To ensure the local areas were as representative as possible, countries were each divided into five geographic regions; five local authorities at lowest level (LAU2) were then selected at random from the list of all such authorities with rural population densities in each region. Country Coordinators attempted to survey the first on each list and typically succeeded, although in six cases there was adequate cooperation in only 3-4 regions. Incompletion in these cases, plus the absence of one country coordinator and failure of two at local level is unlikely to have biased the analysis.
Biodiversity indicators or proxies (e.g. habitat conversion) were related to variables reflecting capacity of habitats and human populations. However, these indicators and EA density did not relate significantly to other regulatory process variables, such as mitigation, monitoring, and ways of paying for EAs and agri-environment measures.
3.3.2 Comparison with case study data
To investigate abundance of human resources, in terms of numbers who might help monitor and restore biodiversity or pay for biodiversity related activities, questions were asked about participation in countryside activities. Authorities were asked to estimate, during pilot case studies and Pan-European survey, what proportion of their local populations they considered to engage in each activity. In local case studies, individual citizens were asked whether they engaged in the activities and, if so, what the spending on the activities was in their household.
The local authority estimates in the case study areas were on average about half the proportions recorded among their local residents, even though the authorities also tended to estimate higher numbers than for 3-5 local authorities that were selected at random for Pan-European survey. The most accurate estimates were for hunters, perhaps because this group has most connection with council for licences or for management of ungulate populations. Councils might also not be aware of resident participation when individuals engage rarely in an activity such as horse-riding, but there was an indication in the data that residents of case study areas may have been more likely to fish, watch wildlife and go riding than in other areas, which could be explained by above average conservation interest and natural habitat in the areas.
The spending data from study areas, which averaged about 850 on all rural recreation (not counting farming and forestry as recreation) may therefore have been an over-estimate. However, among the activities that depended on wild biodiversity, there was no reason why the ratio of average spending per household, of 145 on hunting and fishing to 114 gathering wild foods and feeding or watching wildlife, should be atypical. If it is typical, then the independent estimate of 35 billion total annual spend on hunting and fishing in the EU from previous work (omitting 6 billion from watching and feeding as a probable underestimate) grosses up to a total private biodiversity-dependent spending of 62 billion. This sum is greater than the annual CAP budget of 57 billion, which accounts for half of EU spending. It therefore seems appropriate for the European Commission to take this human resource more seriously as an indicator of sustainable use for assessing the implementation of CBD.
3.4 Database of models for local ecosystem management
TESS is an RTD project which, among other expected results, collected and analysed the existing modeling and data sources to enable generation of a conceptual platform for decision support software solutions. We found that the number of decisions made at EU level as Directives, and as regulations by policymakers at national and sub-national levels, are necessarily relatively few compared to the decisions made by local stakeholders in the use of land, water and species, simply because local stakeholders are far more abundant. Their report showed high importance of local authorities and private managers or users affecting biodiversity. Hence, the database of models was designed for such local stakeholders.
3.4.1 Conceptual approach
Among several concepts of environmental management, the concept of natural capital (e.g. Hawken et al., 1999) sees the world's economy as being within the larger economy of natural resources and ecosystem services that sustain us. Only through recognizing this essential relationship with the earth's valuable resources can businesses, and the people they support, continue to exist.
In practical implementation of natural capitalism, the hardest constraint seems the question of ownerships and hence responsibilities in the management of natural capital. As far as the bulk of natural capital - biosphere and its services - where ownership remains common, market forces fail to effectively regulate its sustainable management.
However, many field-scale investments to natural capital still give significant field-scale benefits. For instance, fertilization of soil is a typical investment to natural capital which gives returns to the field manager. Thus, this database was targeted on such activities where local ecosystem management decisions bring via improved ecosystem services direct benefits to the manager.
3.4.2 Analysing needs and possibilities of decision support for local ecosystem management
A literature study was conducted, resulting in a research paper (Piirimae 2011). The study concluded that conventional types of environmental decision support system (EDSS), which work as simulation or optimization models, continue to have great potential. However, arithmetic and data processing addresses only a small fraction of the challenges in decision-making. Firstly, assessment of management options requires also qualitative reasoning. Secondly, decision-making consists of several consequent steps which require different mental processes and have design implications for a comprehensive ecosystem management EDSS. Fortunately, in recent years, decision support approaches have greatly diversified. In parallel, new findings in human behavior and psychology as well as informatics enable more systematic mapping of future needs for design and application of EDSSs.
A review of recent knowledge drew the following major conclusions:
1. As most management models ignore social factors (e.g. impact on reputation), EDSSs might mistakenly recommend environmentally harmful behavior. Therefore, a totally comprehensive EDDS should include reputation-related consequences in its economic module.
2. In case of long-term or large-scale problems, forecasting capabilities may be insufficient for decisions to result in sustainability. Thus, only local and short-term environmental problems serve as promising subjects to be solved currently by informational tools such as EDSSs. It is particularly important to adapt EDSSs with local social contracts.
3. Whereas the human mind possesses powerful capacities to make decisions independently, the potential of a computer is limited to data processing and analysis, sequential arithmetic and deductive reasoning.
4. As humans do not decide consciously, EDSS can influence decision-making only by stimulating intuitive reasoning and creativity.
3.4.3 Creation of the structure of the database of models
No single model can address the needs of all local ecosystem management situations, and attempts to build such models will likely suffer from over-generality, scale mismatch issues, or endless additions to address new data and questions (Derry 1998). We thus omitted an illusory idea of creating a general global computation algorithm for ecosystem health management. Managers, instead, need a general and flexible framework that answers the questions being asked at the right scale and in a timely and cost-efficient fashion, while still integrating the three dimensions (social, economic, and ecological) that shape managed ecosystems. We therefore designed a metamodel, consisting of a framework of toolkits which build on existing and readily adaptable modeling tools that have been developed and applied to previous research and planning initiatives.
Similarly with the general framework, none of the toolkits would aim to propose a universal computational model to work everywhere in the EU. Instead, the main purpose of each toolkit could be to outline the process of identifying questions, finding the tools and information to answer them, and then ensuring that the interacting suite of domain specific tools informs the global objectives of the planning process. Instead of answering questions, the toolkits could tend to raise questions, highlight problems, and propose tools for the supply of information. The toolkits could also where appropriate stress the need for collaborative analysis involving the right people for modeling social effects.
Hence, the fundamental architecture of the database considered the need to organize and integrate various decision support tools into three toolkits. At the same time, functional there was consideration of how each type of each tool would aid a particular decision step. In this context, pre-simulation steps in a decision-making sequence appear relatively domain-general, hence, rather unsuitable for our domain-specific environmental management database. We concluded that pre-simulative tools should be integrated to each final toolkit but largely excluded from the metadatabase.
3.4.4 Creation of the database of models
3.4.5 Models in the database
Stage 1. Scanning. The project team and other contributors submitted models to the TESS metadatabase using a web-based submission system (http://tess.ttu.ee). The models were collected mostly from the Internet. Of the existing databases, the most significant sources for this database were ECOBAS (http://ecobas.org) EPA Exposure Assessment Models (see http://www.epa.gov/ceampubl online), SSG Sources For Environmental Software (see http://www.scisoftware.com/html/products.html for details), NASA Global Change Master Directory (see http://gcmd.nasa.gov for details) and many other environmental management databases. Google search engine (see http://www.google.com online) and a network of experts around TESS project partners was used to find additional models. This revealed more than 2400 environmental management software tools.
Stage 2. Selection. Among the 2400 scanned models, those suitable for this database were selected according to the following criteria: (1) scope and needs of a database focusing on field health, forest health and recreational site management at local scale; (2) quality of models, including update frequency, user-friendliness etc.; (3) availability of models, including on-line availability of metadata.
Stage 3. Delivery. Metadata for each model were filed using the questionnaire and were collected mostly from web-sites. Fewer data were submitted by external users.
Stage 4. Analysis. The TESS database initially contained 198 models deemed suitable for decision support at local level. However, questions were raised about whether the selection of models for Farm, Forest and Recreation toolkits would really have discovered all the models that could be used at local level. To check this, two people from different partners started from A and from M in the ECOBAS database, and took for comparison, respectively, the first 100 and 95 models that had not been included in the TESS database. Further questions remained about whether the selected models could be used merely to obtain algorithms, and thus as a representation of adequate knowledge to define a useful predictive relationship, or whether the models could with rather little work be used for actual decision support by stakeholders.
The conclusion was while all 198 models in the TESS database represented useful predictive knowledge, 50% were no longer available or not for local use, with only 6% deemed usable locally by non-experts. The TESS selection process had been effective, because there were no models suitable for local use by stakeholders in the 195 other ECOBAS models, where 84% were no longer available or not for local use.
The most striking finding of TESS may be the shocking lack of transfer of predictive environmental science from the realm of scientists to local practitioners who, ultimately, make the decisions that change the environment. It goes beyond the lack of locally user-friendly models when one realises that almost all the support for the models is in English; just three usable models were in one or two other languages.
TESS did not ask about languages in case studies (Section 3.2) and local Pan-European surveys (Section 3.3). It was just natural to translate the mapping software and questionnaires in order to facilitate provision of standardised information. Perhaps that was why local participants in case studies and surveys were on the whole enthusiastic and responsive.
3.5 Socio-economic and technical design for a Transactional Environmental Support System (TESS)
The strategic objective of TESS is to design a decision support system related to environment and land use that will enable policy makers to integrate knowledge from the regional and local level into the decision making process, while also encouraging local people to maintain and restore biodiversity ecosystem services.
A question addressed early in the design was whether the system should be prioritized for local decision-makers or high-level policy makers (Kenward et al. 2011). It was noted (i) that many EC science projects address policymakers, but few seek to interact with local communities, (ii) those constructing previous environmental decision support stressed the local benefits, (iii) a previous survey of local case studies found conservation and ecosystem services to benefit most from knowledge leadership, (iv) local people make the land-use decisions that change environments, (v) local people are enthusiastic and capable, but (vi) scientists don't bother to help them, and (vii) governments underestimate their importance as a resource.
Clearly, the unmet need for knowledge transaction is at local level. Moreover, at high level European Environment Agency is doing a good job of consolidating information for expert decision makers in science and government, through SEIS/EIONET, SEBI, CORINE and the planned BISE. Integration of data to provide indices for policy, and as used in TESS, has proceeded well at European level, partly through encouraging consolidation of data at national levels. However, consolidation to national level is no good for local decisions. The mapped landcover data in CORINE is available at a scale of 250m, and volunteers are now mapping bird species to 5km resolution, but even that is too coarse for work in local farms and gardens. So mapping even to 10m accuracy, as done in TESS case studies, would be a huge advance.
The TESS project team held workshops in Edinburgh and Brussels to specify technical design of the system. These workshops resulted in a list of high level requirements, a domain model to organize these requirements, a system deployment model and a set of Use Cases essentially reflecting components in the domain model. The Use Cases were then defined by appropriate partners for illustrative purposes, as a guide to the major issues regarding the system capabilities but not intended to be specified at a level that could be implemented by a developer.
126.96.36.199 High Level Requirements
1. The system shall be web based initially, but its architecture must be flexible enough that alternative frontends may be developed (applets, cloud, etc).
2. The system must be able to contain socio-environmental data (spatial and non-spatial data, map images) and models in various formats, for various locations and with varying degrees of confidentiality.
3. All data and models used in the system will be tagged by origin, as public or private and with other appropriate meta-data and will be held secure from unauthorized access.
4. The system shall also support standardized data-bases on private computers, on which the user can change data, mark it public or private, and use it with appropriate models in personal computers or on the system.
5. Public data will be acquired by the system, but may be changed by system or originator [with keeping of a transaction history and version control].
6. There must an appropriate backup and restoration system.
7. Models may be acquired by the system for its use on a public or commercial basis, after appropriate validation.
8. The user and the system must be able to make requests for data and models of third-party databases, providing payment for access where necessary.
9. The user must be able to compare data and models from different sources and otherwise check for validity.
10. The system must be able to verify and check data and models for integrity; format conversions will be treated similarly.
11. The system must be able to accept donations, subscriptions and payments on account for models and data.
12. The system must be able to present itself and interact with the user in many languages.
13. The user must be able to create a user account so that the system remembers the user's details (name, address, subscription and account details) at login; the system shall maintain a list of accounts in its central database.
14. The user must be able to search for data by various search methods - location, type, keyword, date and so on - and then view the results.
15. The user and system must be able to apply appropriate data conversions, models and uncertainty analysis in data and produce scenarios.
16. It must be possible for the user to provide feedback on the data and models and there must be a complaints mechanism.
17. There must be scope for documentation, Help and tutorials.
18. The system must be able to interact with large external databases (e.g. CORINE).
19. The system shall be scalable for increasing number of users.
188.8.131.52 Domain Model
A software domain model can be considered as a conceptual model of a domain of interest which describes the various entities, their attributes and interrelationships, plus the constraints that govern the integrity of the model elements comprising that specific problem domain.
184.108.40.206 Use Cases
The use case view of a system is used to capture its behavior, as it appears to an outside user; it is a partition of the system functionalities into transactions meaningful to actors, as idealized user of the system. Use cases affect every facet of the system design; they capture what is required by the domain model and then show how these requirements are met.
3.5.3 Socio-economic setting
However, the design must not merely provide a technological tool, but must consider demand and supply for the information in that tool, the ease of use of the tool, motivation to use the tool and cost of maintaining the tool long-term. A tool that is not desirable, practical and durable will not be used. In the long run, a system must be practical both for communities and individuals needing knowledge, and for scientists who guide the knowledge process, as well as for government policy-makers.
Developing a socio-economic setting required market research, and consideration with stakeholders at several meetings gave the concept of a web-portal serving as a one-stop-site for ideas and knowledge attractive to individuals and communities. Existing toolkits and decision support systems could be linked to such a portal and then complemented by a user-friendly and intelligent web-GIS.
To design the socio-economic setting, we found that priorities of stakeholder organisations from such a portal were for decision support on production and other topics, with mapping, species monitoring, opinion survey, and best-practice examples of conserving through use of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
To discover stakeholder interest in a portal for conservation through use of land, water and biota, we used TESS design (inc UseCases 8-12 and 15) to build a 'Naturalliance' portal (see http://www.naturalliance.eu online), with translation to 15-languages [now 20 languages] and content contributions from TESS partners, to ask individuals with many appropriate interests what they would like from such a portal in future. First findings indicate similar priorities to the survey of organizations: for web-services (for best-practice in conservation through use of biodiversity, monitoring species, conservation news and mapping) and information (on protected species and habitat maps).
The system needs to attract private funding in order to be durable, as state funding cannot be relied on long term. However, if a service on the internet can be made attractive enough for wide enough mapping to be useful, it could also be practical to collect large numbers of small financial contributions electronically. Construction based on small contributions is likely to be gradual.
3.6 Recommendations and policy guidelines
In framing recommendations and guidelines we have tried to consider different audiences such as various levels of government and local users, as well as those who commission and carry out research and monitoring. The order adopted is related to the way in which the project was implemented and should not be seen as having any further significance. We offer summaries of key findings and then propose guidelines or recommendations which arise from them.
In the TESS project we first considered higher echelons of governance at the EU and national or immediately sub-national government levels.
The following recommendations are proposed when considering how environmental and sustainability assessment should be carried forward through incentives and regulations.
1. The SEA and EIA Directives should be reconsidered with a view to their integration and formal application at the same level in all member states.
2. Member States should be required to give regular accounts of how their planning and other decision-making systems incorporate the principles of environmental and sustainability impact assessment in cases which lie outside the scope of formal SEA and EIA.
3. The Commission and Member States should develop environmental cross-compliance requirements to include assessments of significant changes in agricultural and forestry land-use and management, which are currently covered by the EIA Directive, while promoting the integration of biodiversity and other environmental information into single farm payment regimes.
4. Member States should increase co-operation with the European Environment Agency by ensuring that information gathered for formal assessments is shared with them and the wider public and by supporting efforts under the INSPIRE Directive and other initiatives to improve the quality and compatibility of environmental data generally.
5. The Commission and Member States should consider encouraging the Biodiversity Action Plan model of collaboration between stakeholders for biodiversity restoration to provide regional and local frameworks for information gathering and monitoring.
6. Steps should be taken to integrate knowledge and data provided by individual land-users into formal environmental decision making to support SEA's, EIA's and assessments for land-use planning decisions.
7. The design of an effective environmental information system needs to standardise and centrally collate a wide variety of ecological and socio-economic data that can be scaled for delivery at all levels. However, the precise data requirements need to be understood and, as far as possible, quantified in more detail.
8. In order to refine information needs for different statutory authorities and stakeholder groups further Pan-European survey work will be needed. This would be enormously facilitated if Eurostat were able to establish rigorous sampling frames across Europe for the groups of land-users identified by TESS and for local governments with specific functions.
9. Pending the creation of any widely available interactive decision support system, simple guides to what information is available at local level and what purposes it is suitable for would be of value for many users and would save both time and the expense of hiring consultants to extract routine information. Central co-ordination would assist the production of such guides.
10. The relevance of participation in wildlife-related activities by millions of EU citizens and the direct and indirect spending associated with these activities should be appreciated by policy-makers.
11. Accordingly Eurostat should be invited to carry out assessments of these activities across EU Member States by appropriate sampling methods, as has been practiced for a number of decades in the United States.
12. Biodiversity conservation policies need to take full account of the perceptions and attitudes of the people who live closest to wildlife and the countryside if their support for and active participation in conservation is to be secured. These attitudes should be regularly surveyed by the Commission, using the highly developed tools available to Eurostat.
13. Noting the rapid progress made in the development of digital tablets, the fall in prices and their dramatic uptake by the public over the last two years, European institutions, national governments and agencies should promote further experiments and training for local people in mapping for the monitoring and conservation of biodiversity and related socio-economic purposes.
14. Land-use changes are of fundamental importance for conservation policy. Those recorded by recent CORINE data merit urgent investigation. A locally-based recording and mapping system such as is being developed by TESS could rapidly feed information to higher governmental levels, enabling policy adjustments to be made as appropriate.
15. Conservation policy and practice should recognise the legitimate interests and, indeed, positive contribution of such users of land and water as recreational shooters and anglers. Stakeholder partnerships using monitoring and adaptive management will maximise the input of human and financial resources.
16. The case for a comprehensive decision support system for local land users to integrate environmental, social and economic goals is very strong. However, it will take substantial resources and time to achieve such a system in practice. There are some decision support tools available to use in the short-term but they are limited in application, coverage and the availability of languages other than English, with the consequence that much development work is needed to improve technology transfer in this area.
17. In developing internet-based advice and support for land managers using simple mapping tools, attention should be given to what works and is practical for them, using feedback and market testing and bringing together best practice guidance from a wide variety of sources.
18. Support should be given to the portal for ideas and knowledge exchange via
(a) publicity aimed at land-users from governments and national associations,
(b) data and best practice case study material from researchers and environmental institutions and
(c) where feasible, appropriate finance from any quarter.
The objectives of the dissemination activities are listed below:
- creation of awareness about the project's results, encouraging trial and involvement;
- participation in events of high publicity and added value that reach the scientific community and ensure thorough peer review;
- production of documentation and dissemination material oriented to potential up-takers and users of the project results.
- encouragement of involvement in the project;
- change in opinions and attitudes;
- attraction of additional funding;
- aid mainstreaming and achieve sustainability for the project;
- embedding project results into the practices of participants;
- ensure that the project's methods and outputs are adopted by stakeholders;
- further developing project results in different contexts and situations
The consortium developed the following tools for the dissemination of the project
- A project logo was developed and templates for presentations and reports were produced
-A project brochure was prepared including the main points of the TESS project, as well as two project posters. The brochure has been translated in all partner languages to disseminate information on project objectives and process.
- A factsheet of the project was prepared for the needs of the final TESS conference that took place in Brussels, on 25th of May 2011.
- After the end of the project, a leaflet was prepared in English to present the final project results in the general public.
- A "Policy Recommendations and Guidelines" booklet has been prepared and printed in English oriented to reach policy makers even after the project completion.
- The TESS Knowledge Portal (http://.tess-project.eu in all project language) has been a focal point for the project's dissemination activities as all intermediate and final results are maintained there, suitable for public access and dissemination. The knowledge portal has and will continue to serve (for at least two years) as an online forum to present the results and receive the feedback of both conservationists and policy makers. An online promotion strategy was developed and implemented. The site attracted 7768 visits from 5179 visitors from 115 countries in the period from 1 January 2009 (launch of the TESS website) until 20 July 2011.
- A mailing list was established including approximately 450 e-mail addresses from relevant stakeholder's from all participating countries. All partners contributed to the development (and regular update) of the mailing list; emails were collected through the TESS dissemination events, and through the contacts of the consortium partners.
- Throughout the project's duration, 3 newsletters have been prepared and distributed in all stakeholders included in the mailing list.
The 1st Newsletter was distributed on November 2009 introducing TESS project, presenting the outcomes of the 1st TESS project workshop etc.
The 2nd Newsletter was distributed on November 2010 presenting the outcomes of the 2nd TESS project workshop, informing on recent and upcoming project results and the concluding TESS conference
The 3rd Newsletter was distributed on April 2011 informing on recent and upcoming project results and the concluding TESS conference in the European Parliament in Brussels
A database with information on European and International conferences, workshops and events relevant to the TESS project was kept and updated on a regular basis and distributed to the project partners via e-mail (every one to two months).
TESS partners participated in 76 events where they presented papers and made announcements, and also submitted articles in scientific publications, journals as well as to the participants' national press. Project dissemination has been also carried out through personal contacts with other researchers, environmental consultants and technicians from central and local government environment departments/positions as well as non-governmental organizations. Particularly important was also approaching officials from central and local administration and stakeholders dealing with EIA and SEA, investigated through the structured interviews, were informed about the project aim and objectives. Reports on TESS were also produced in the newsletters of FACE and IUCN / SSC.
To create a community of interest, TESS also organised two technical workshops and a final conference in the European Parliament in Brussels with participation of high-level speakers, such as the head of the EEA, MEPs, etc.
The 1st TESS Environmental Information Workshop was held on 15-16 September 2009 in London, UK. The workshop presented the results of the first phase of the TESS project to guide the formulation of its succeeding stages. These results were set in the context of international perspectives on Environmental Impact Assessment and the use of environmental information for decision making at national to local levels. Among the 60 participants were experts from the 14 TESS partner institutions, survey coordinators from the European Union 27 and neighboring countries, presenters and invited representatives from national and local government and wild resource beneficiaries. Keynote speakers included Prof Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency, Prof Maria do Rosário Partidário, IST, Lisbon, former President of International Association for Impact Assessment, and Prof. Nigel Leader-Williams, Cambridge Conservation Forum.
List of Websites:
6 Project details
TESS started on October 1st, 2008, and covered a period of 33 months with the support of the European Commission (FP7-Environment programme, grant agreement no. 212304). Partners are:
-Aristotle University of Thessaloniki - coordinator (Greece, see http://web.auth.gr online)
-Bournemouth University (United Kingdom, see http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/ccee online)
-NERC-Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (United Kingdom, see http://www.ceh.ac.uk for details)
-Anatrack Ltd (United Kingdom, see http://www.anatrack.com for details)
-ERENA, Ordenamento e Gestao de Recursos Naturais Ltd. (Portugal, see http://www.erena.pt for details)
-Tero Ltd (Greece, see http://www.tero.gr for details)
-European Sustainable Use Specialist Group (Belgium, see http://www.data.iucn.org/themes/ssc/susg/sub/europe.htm for details)
- Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU (Belgium, see http://www.face.eu for details)
-Pro-Biodiversity Service (Poland)
-Centre for Cartography of Fauna and Flora (Slovenia, see http://www.ckff.si for details)
-Szent Istvan University, Institute for Wildlife Conservation (Hungary, see http://www.vvt.gau.hu for details)
-Institute of Sustainable Technology at Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia, see http://www.ttu.ee for details)
-Danube Delta National Institute for R&D (Romania, see http://www.indd.tim.ro for details)
-WWF Turkey (Turkey, see http://www.wwf.org.tr for details)
For further information: http://www.tess-project.eu or directly contact:
Professor Basil Manos (Coordinator)
Department of Agricultural Economics
Faculty of Agriculture
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Ms Olivia Chassais (Scientific Officer)
Unit RTD-I-2 Environmental Technologies
CDMA 3/18, 21 rue du Champ de Mars
Professor Robert Kenward (Science Supervisor)
Anatrack ltd, 52 Furzebrook Road
BH20 5AX, United Kingdom
Mr. Eustratios Arampatzis (Dissemination Manager)
Antoni Tritsi 21
57001, Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel.: +30- 2310- 804900
Fax: +30- 2310- 804904
Dr. Jason Papathanasiou (Deputy Coordinator)
Department of Marketing and Operations Management
University of Macedonia
Agiou Dimitriou 49, 58200, Greece
Grant agreement ID: 212304
1 October 2008
30 June 2011
€ 2 343 455,24
€ 1 801 111,47
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 212304
1 October 2008
30 June 2011
€ 2 343 455,24
€ 1 801 111,47
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS
Grant agreement ID: 212304
1 October 2008
30 June 2011
€ 2 343 455,24
€ 1 801 111,47
ARISTOTELIO PANEPISTIMIO THESSALONIKIS