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Keynote Speakers

24.09.2012 – 11:00 - "Global Sustainability Policy and the Science-Policy Interface: Is There a Role for Ecosystem Models?"

Wolfgang Cramer, Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale

There is no longer a question about the need to integrate the conservation of biodiversity and the assured provisioning of ecosystem services with other aspects of sustainability policy such as energy and climate. The debate now rather revolves about tradeoffs, synergies and conflicts between these different elements. For conservation, for example, protected areas are one option, the integration of conservation goals into long-term land use policy another. Both ends of this gradient have their respective merits, and both need to be considered quantitatively with respect to overall sustainability objectives. At the onset of work of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), there are numerous open science questions that need to be addressed by researchers during coming decades. For a number of them, well-validated ecosystem models can be a suitable tool for the testing of scenarios of future drivers and conditions.

Presentation (PDF 5 MB)

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Cramer, environmental geographer and plant ecologist, is the head of research at IMBE, the Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale, in Aix-en-Provence, France. Until 2011, he was co-leading the “Earth System Analysis” area of research at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Prof. Dr. Cramer received his academic training in Germany (diploma in Geography at Giessen University, 1981) and Sweden (Ph.D. in plant ecology at Uppsala University, 1986). Prof. Dr. Cramer is a current member of several scientific committees, such as DIVERSITASand ICSU’s Ecosystem Change & Society.


24.09.2012 – 11:30 - “Climate Change and NATURA 2000: the need for vision and action”

Rob Jongman, Wageningen University

Climate change is leading to changes in environmental conditions for humans and natural species. This means changing environmental processes in natural and semi-natural habitats as well in agricultural land. The speed of change in as well as the location of natural areas requires not only the knowledge  on ecological processes and ecosystem change, but also the effect that this is having on societal and economic processes and patterns.

Changes in natural systems caused by climate change do take place due to changes in abiotic processes and in biotic processes. This means that average and extreme temperature can  change, that precipitation can change in quantity and in pattern, causing drought or flooding and rivers may change their seasonal character due to these changes. Based on these changes habitats might change such as a higher upper tree level or a drier pre-desert zone in south-east Spain.

This will have an impact on species that are favoured by changing conditions or that cannot cope with the changing conditions. Mountain top vegetation is already changing, natural areas in lowlands face the inherent change that might make them uninhabitable for the species that live there now. Some marine species are moving north, changing the character of marine life. On the other hand migrating species might cease migrating as storks do already in Spain.

We have to identify a strategy to maintain the quality of N2000 sites if possible, and help species to move through a landscape if needed. Both require changes in nature, land and water management. We have to adapt the definitions in our Directives and Conventions, solve legal problems and get social acceptance of climate change impacts. All this requires a coherent and inviting vision for the European nature of the near future and clarity on the position of NATURA 2000 and other protected areas in it.

Presentation (PDF 5 MB)

Dr. Rob Jongman is a landscape ecologist and expert in river ecology, nature conservation planning, as well as environmental monitoring. Dr. Jongman is a senior researcher at ALTERRA, which is part of Wageningen University & Research centre. He holds a Ph.D. from Wageningen University in landscape ecology and a M.Sc. in Biology from Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Since 1990 he has worked on a concept of ecological networks at the European level as a strategy for nature conservation planning. In 2004, his book “Ecological networks and Greenways” was published in the Cambridge University Press Landscape Ecology Series. His current projects focus on biodiversity monitoring. Together with Biodiversity International and NASA he is running the GEO biodiversity Community of Practice GEO-BON. Furthermore, he is the coordinator of the European pilot project on biodiversity monitoring EBONE.


25.09.2012 – 09:00 - "Is biodiversity law adapted to climate change adaptation?"

Prof. Dr. An Cliquet, Department of Public International Law, Ghent University

Climate change will cause further loss of biodiversity and can cause further deterioration of protected areas. Adaptive measures are required to protect biodiversity from the effects of climate change. At the international and European policy level, attention is paid to the link between biodiversity and climate change. Within the framework of the Biodiversity Convention, several decisions were taken by the Conferences of the Parties. The EU policy on climate change and biodiversity aims at improving a coherent ecological network in order to have more resilient ecosystems and to provide for connectivity outside the core areas. An important question is, if biodiversity law is sufficiently adapted to face these additional challenges for biodiversity conservation.

International biodiversity conventions to not deal with climate change issues specifically. However, within the subsequent decisions in the framework of these conventions, attention is given to climate change. The legal value of these decisions is however debated. Stronger legal obligations can be found within EU legislation. The existing legal framework, the Birds and Habitats Directives can enable adaptive measures, by establishing and managing the Natura 2000 network and providing for connectivity measures. However, the implementation of the legal instruments have so far mainly been aimed at conservation the status quo of habitats and species within the core areas. In order to face the additional negative effects of climate change, efforts must be increased to protect ecosystems from the negative effects from climate change, and to facilitate ecological restoration of new areas. Even more effort is needed for the implementation of the connectivity. Although the existing legal framework is not ideal, it certainly provides – be it often implicit – legal possibilities for restoration and connectivity measures.

Presentation (PDF 255 kB)

Prof. Dr. An Cliquet holds degrees in Law and Maritime Sciences. In 2001 she became Doctor in Law on the subject of “Nature conservation in the marine and coastal environment, with specific reference to the Belgian marine and coastal environment.” She is an expert on public international law, as well as international and European biodiversity law.


25.09.2012 – 16:30 - "Science and society: the context for developing conservation adaptation strategies"

Dr. Mike Morecroft, Head of Profession for Climate Change,  Natural England

Conservation science has been considering climate change adaptation for almost as long as it has been researching the impacts of climate change.  The science has, however, developed rapidly in the last 10 years and it is timely to review some of the basic tenets of adaptation.  At the same time climate change adaptation has become an important policy area and strategies have been developed at international, national and sub-national scales.  Adaptation is a challenge for all of society to address and developments in other sectors may be just as important as what happens within the conservation sector. There are significant opportunities to develop ecosystem-based adaptation in, for example, flood risk management and the design of urban areas.  However, there are also threats presented by ‘unsustainable’ adaptation in other sectors.  I will therefore review the scientific principles for climate change adaptation in the light of recent research and consider the opportunities and threats presented by the wider adaptation agenda. 

In this context, what are the key challenges for European conservation?  What should be the balance between national and European initiatives?  Protected areas will continue to be an essential component of successful conservation in a changing climate, but we will need to understand their changing role in a a broader context.

Presentation (PDF 3 MB)

Dr. Mike Morecroft is the head of profession for Natural England’s work on climate change. He is an ecologist, specialising in climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation. Prior to joining Natural England in 2009 he led a research group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Wallingford, England. His Ph.D. (Cambridge, 1990) research was on the way plants change with altitude on mountains and interactions between climate and nutrients supply. He is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and currently involved with the development of the National Adaptation Programme for Climate Change.