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This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 265104
  
 
 

 



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New publication - Climate Change: European trees under stress
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The carbon sink services provided by European forests were predicted to be functional for decades, however since 2005 there have been signs of sink saturation, reports work published in Nature Climate Change. The paper suggests that declining volume of trees, deforestation rates and higher vulnerability to natural disturbances such as fires, storms and insects play a part in this slow-down.

Carbon sinks remove CO2 from the atmosphere and the Kyoto Protocol has promoted their use as a form of carbon offset. Gert-Jan Nabuurs and colleagues looked at forest inventories for the whole European area and found that since 2005 there has been a decline in the rate of tree volume increase, and therefore also in sink capacity. This was calculated using the average annual volume of forest increment minus the average annual volume of natural mortality of trees. The authors suggest that a few conditions may explain this. As European forests are increasingly mature, they are dominated by older trees. This condition, combined with reduced nitrogen deposition from the atmosphere and decreased summer air humidity due to climate change, can explain the lower growth in forest volume that curbs the carbon sink. In addition, urban sprawl and infrastructure expansion are driving deforestation rates, even if only on a modest scale, with effects on the sink strength. Finally, evidence shows that the older European forests are more susceptible to damage caused by natural disturbances, leading to release of carbon into the atmosphere.

The researchers conclude that although managed European forests are closer to capacity than previously thought, changes in management practices can improve volume growth and slow down saturation of the carbon sink.

DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1853

 
Landscape Democracy - Researching the right to landscape and collaborative landscape practices
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PhD. Course, 18-22 November 2013, Copenhagen and Alnarp

Organised by Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen in co-operation with the Nordic network on Landscape Democracy

Venue: The Danish Forestry College located in Nøddebo north of Copenhagen (19-22). The course opens with full day seminar to be held at Department of Landscape Architecture, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Alnarp.

Fees: The will be no fees for the course. Costs for accommodation and meals from Monday the 18th. Saturday (morning) the 23th will be app. 600 €.

Formal enrolment will be possible from September 2013. Preliminary registration should be done by mail to Kamilla Hansen-Møller ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Landscape democracy, the main subject of this course, represents an emerging research field within a number of disciplines from sciences to social sciences and humanities. The linkages between human rights, landscape, democracy and public policy interventions (legislation, policy and planning practice) constitute the primary theoretical subject for the course with the aim to conceptualise and understand discourses as well as practices associated with landscape functions, patterns and change. Development of methodological skills to analyse human rights’ aspects of landscape functions is one of the course objectives.

The course is organized an intensive one week course (18-22.11.2013) with lectures by leading scholars, seminars, and Ph.D.-paper presentations. Assignments include readings and submission of an extended paper abstract before the course as well as submission of a short paper few weeks after the course. Extend: 4 ECTS.

Pre-course: A Reading list will be provided by October  1, 2013.
Extended abstract (1000-1500 words) due by October 20, 2013
Post course: Short paper (2500-3000 words) deadline: January 31, 2014

Landscape democracy 2013 course plan

 
D2.2 Policy drivers of land use/landscape change and the role of institutions
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Deliverable D.2.2 Policy drivers of land use/landscape change and the role of institutions is now available.

This Volante deliverable D2.2 provides an overview and comparative analysis of the transposition and implementation of the two European policies: the Habitats Directive (HD) and the agri-environmental schemes (AES) under the second pillar of the common agricultural policy (CAP), and the role that institutions play in these processes. The report is based on the country reports from the case study countries (Netherlands (NL), Greece (GR), Romania (RO), Austria (AT) and Denmark (DK)). Each policy is analysed in separate parts of the deliverable and the results are compared in the common discussion and conclusion of report.

Both policies have been characterized according to a framework based on the type of policy intervention in question (regulatory, economic, advisory,) and addressed area of intervention (governance structure) in order to approach the subject of the policy (hierarchy, market, self-organized). (Theesfeldt et al 2010). This is supplemented by indicators of institutional fit, according to a typology made by Knill and Lehmkuhl (2002), defining three ‘Europeanization mechanisms’ that may be used or may define the level of change in domestic regulatory styles and structures required by regulations and directives that are implemented in member states. These mechanisms are: a) institutional compliance, b) changing domestic opportunity structures, and c) framing domestic beliefs and expectations.

Second, the EU policy transposition styles in each case study country are characterized according to a typology of compliance cultures in Member States in the EU (Falkner et al. 2007, Falkner and Trieb 2008). The following “worlds of compliance” are represented in the typology: a) Worlds of law observance, b) worlds of domestic policies, c) Worlds of transposition neglect, and d) Worlds of dead letter.

This framework proved adequate to carry out the analyses, but showed that the Worlds of Compliance theory (originally carried out on EU labour laws), did not reveal identical results for the two policies studied in the countries studied.  The characterization per country seemingly depends on whether the implemented policy is regulatory or compensatory, and whether the policy implies national strict requirement for a mandatory institutional style or the policy barely demands changes of domestic institutions or constitutes a framing of domestic beliefs and expectations. Moreover, a certain ‘spill over’ from former domestic policies are identified. Hence, the present study supports that institutional issues are important aspects to address, if real policy outcomes are to be expected.

Implications are twofold:

Recent studies have called for more emphasis on the domestic scene, including domestic politics. Further studies on EU implementation could look more into aspects of implementation pathways (Liefferink) and ‘policy sequencing’ (Daugbjerg 2009)

Developing EU policy options, including ex-ante impact assessments should include institutional issues, as already foreseen by Theesfeld et al. For the Volante roadmap this implies that a set of issues are identified that may inform the design of the roadmap. These issues are categorized under five headings:

1. European level procedural issues for selection of policy option

2. European level policy issue, to be addressed in relation to different policy options

3. European level preparation of implementation of policy option

4. European level issues while implementing of a policy option

5. Domesticgovernmentframework

Deliverable D.2.2 Policy drivers of land use/landscape change and the role of institutions

 
Technological, institutional and economic drivers of land use change
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Deliverable D.4.3 Technological, institutional and economic drivers of land use change is now available. This report presents the findings of the VOLANTE Work Package 4 Project on technological, institutional and economic drivers of land use change in a long-term perspective (200-years) for 27 European countries – three non-EU countries (Albania, Norway and Switzerland) and 24 EU member states.

Deliverable D.4.3 Technological, institutional and economic drivers of land use change

 
Interesting courses on VOLANTE and University of the Aegean Ph.D. Summer School
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The Summegeneral_summer_school_picture_webr School Course on "Transitions in Landscape and Land Use" will take place in Lesvos from 12th to 18th of June 2013. The VOLANTE and University of the Aegean Ph.D. Summer School focuses on and is largely inspired by the ongoing scientific advances, in the context of the VOLANTE project: Visions of Land Use Transitions in Europe. PhD-Students will, therefore, become acquainted with state of the art scientific insights into:

o Past and present processes determining land use change, at various spatial/ time scales
o Modelling techniques in the assessment of land use scenarios for the future
o Interactive vision development and roadmapping for future land uses

Course lecturers are among the top specialists in this interdisciplinary field of science, both from within the VOLANTE consortium and invited.

Students are required to submit a complete draft scientific paper, before the start of the Summer School, which they will present and discuss in class, with fellow students and with the chief editor of a renowned peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Registration and paper submission are now running.

Paper submission deadline: 31st May, 2013-03-13.

More information on the program and the application requirements and deadlines at:

https://landscape2013.pns.aegean.gr/

 
Report on private and public forest ownership in Europe published
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private_forest_ownership_map_of_europe_april_2013Data collected within Volante WP3-Hotspots and syndromes of recent land-use transitions by The European Forest Institute's (EFI) contributed to quantify the spatial distribution of forest ownership. EFI just published a technical report on forest ownership in Europe. Please find below the link to the press release of the European Forest Ownership mapping report and to the report itself:


Press release: http://www.efi.int/portal/news___events/news/?bid=1104

Report: http://www.efi.int/portal/virtual_library/publications/technical_reports/88/

 
Letter to science: Limits of the productive capacity of ecosystems
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DSC00637In a letter to Science, Karl-Heinz Erb from the Institute of Social Ecology Vienna and a number of co-authors discuss how the measurement of biomass production and consumption can be used to gain a better understanding of the limits of the productive capacity of ecosystems.

Future growth of population and GDP are challenged by global biophysical limits, such as the scarcity of resources (land, energy, raw materials) as well as the limited capacity of the biosphere to cope with end products (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions). One promising indicator, which is frequently mentioned in this context and is the subject of research at the Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC) of the Alpen-Adria-Universität, is the human utilization or "appropriation" of net primary production (HANPP), that is, of the biomass production of green plants. Biomass represents the basis for all human and animal food chains. Furthermore, biomass is not only a source of energy, but also plays a significant role for the carbon sequestration of ecosystems.

In a current letter to the editor of Science, Karl-Heinz Erb discusses with two SEC colleagues and international colleagues, including Peter Verburg (VOLANTE module A), how the measurement of biomass production and consumption can be used to gain a better understanding of the "productive capacity of ecosystems". "In our letter we identify the factors - for example, land use intensity - which are important for a clearer grasp of the global limits of the productive capacity of ecosystems", Karl-Heinz Erb explains.

The issue has proven to be complex at the national level, for example in the case of Austria. This is due to the fact that trade in biomass is steadily increasing - trading volumes are growing at a much faster rate than production and consumption. As a consequence, national strategies, e.g. relating to bioenergy, regional planning, agricultural policy and food, are increasingly having global effects. These effects can be rendered visible with the indicator "embodied HANPP" (eHANPP), which measures the global impact of a country's biomass consumption (food, bioenergy, etc.) upon the global net primary production.

"If we include the total appropriated biomass in our calculation for the production of goods, Austria imports more biomass than it exports. This slightly negative balance might appear somewhat surprising. Compared to the national level of consumption, Austria imports and exports large volumes of biomass. This means that we must not ignore the effects of trade. The global effects of biomass production can be illustrated using eHANPP, thus leading to a better understanding of the required measures", Helmut Haberl points out. In their article published in the December edition of "Ecological Economics" (vol. 84, p.66ff), Helmut Haberl and his team present this new method of calculating the Austrian consumption of biomass, which has been expanded to include the necessary trade data.

Both articles are directly related to research carried out within VOLANTE.

- Erb, K.-H., H. Haberl, R. DeFries, E. Ellis, F. Krausmann, P. Verburg, S.W. Running, W.K. Smith, 2012. Pushing the Planetary Boundaries. Science, 338, 1419-1420.

- Haberl, H., T. Kastner, A. Schaffartzik, N. Ludwiczek, K.-H. Erb, 2012. Global effects of national biomass production and consumption: Austria's embodied HANPP related to agricultural products in the year 2000. Ecological Economics, 84, 66-73

 
New paper in PNAS
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DSC01697_webThe biodiversity crisis may become even more severe when temporal delays are taken into account

The impacts of socio-economic pressures on natural floras and faunas will probably not be completely realized until decades into the future

A new study on extinction risk based on extensive data from 7 taxonomic groups and 22 European countries has shown that proportions of plant and animal species being classified as threatened on national Red Lists are more closely related to socio-economic pressure levels from the beginning than from the end of the 20th century. An international group of 13 researchers reports this new finding in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

It is well understood that the survival of a substantial and increasing number of species is put at risk by human activity via e.g. habitat destruction, environmental pollution or introduction of alien species. Accordingly, the most recent global IUCN Red List (www.iucnredlist.org) classifies 31% of the 65,518 plant and animal species assessed as endangered. However, the temporal scale of cause-effect relationships is little explored. If extended time lags between human pressure and population decline are common, then the full impact of current high levels of anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity will only be realized decades into the future.

Taking an historical approach, the new study provides circumstantial evidence that such time-lags are indeed substantial. The researchers demonstrate that proportions of vascular plants, bryophytes, mammals, reptiles, dragonflies and grasshoppers facing medium to high extinction risks are more closely matched to country-specific indicators of socio-economic pressures (i.e. human population density, per capita GDP, land use intensity, measured as the human appropriation of net primary production or HANPP) from the early or mid rather than the late 20th century. Accordingly, their results suggest a considerable historical legacy of species' population losses. In a related analysis they also show that current spending on environmental conservation only has a weak mitigating effect. This finding implies that current conservation actions are effective, but inadequate in scale, to halt species losses.

"The broad taxonomic and geographic coverage indicates that a so-called 'extinction debt' is widespread phenomenon", says Stefan Dullinger from the University of Vienna. "This inertia is worrying as it implies that albeit numbers of species classified as threatened on Red Lists are increasing continuously and worldwide, these assessments might still underestimate true extinction risks", explains Franz Essl from the Austrian Environment Agency.

Therefore, the scientists write "mitigating extinction risks might be an even greater challenge if temporal delays mean many threatened species might already be destined towards extinction". They expect that minimizing the magnitude of the current extinction crisis might be an even greater challenge when temporal delays are taken into account. Therefore a substantial increase in global conservation effort is urgently needed to conserve species diversity for future generations, they say.

The "human appropriation of net primary production" (HANPP) is one of the pressure indicators examined in this study. VOLANTE has contributed to researching long-term HANPP trajectories in European countries.

Dullinger, S., F. Essl, W. Rabitsch, K.-H. Erb, S. Gringrich, H. Haberl, K. Hülber, V. Jarošík, F. Krausmann, I. Kühn, J. Pergl, P. Pyšek, P.E. Hulme, 2013. Europe's other debt crisis caused by the long legacy of future extinctions. - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), published online early on April 15, 2013, http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1216303110

 
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