Student Conference on Conservation Science


Coping with the loss of the last continuity forests in boreal Sweden

Professor Bengt Gunnar Jonsson, Dept of Natural Sciences, Mid Sweden University & Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Environmental Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

The Swedish boreal forest has since the onset of commercial forestry in the mid-1800s been transformed from a pristine ecosystem to a fragmented landscape dominated by managed forest stands. Especially the current sustained yield forestry, based on clearcut harvesting, has since the Second World War left only remnants of more natural forests. In this presentation, I will present an analysis based on remote sensing data on the remaining continuity forests in Northern Sweden. These forests represent the last of remnants of old forests and hence of critical importance for forest biodiversity. The analysis highlights a Scandinavian Green Belt in the western parts of Northern Sweden where still relatively large tracts of more natural forests exist and with a landscape level continuity. East of this belt, the landscape is strongly fragmented and with very limited connectivity. The concept of Green Infrastructure (GI) is gaining strong policy importance and aims to secure, at landscape scale, a network of valuable forest stands supporting the maintenance of species and ecosystem services on a national scale. Given the current lack of old and natural forests in large parts of northern Sweden, the establishment of such a functional GI is major challenge. It will require increased focus on protection of remaining valuable forest, but also significant efforts in restoration of habitat qualities in less valuable stands. This is unlikely to happen across all of northern Sweden and hence spatial prioritization will be needed. A starting point would be to implement landscape planning to achieve what the late Professor Ilkka Hanski suggested as a rule of thumb – to ensure that in at least one third of the landscapes that one third of the area is in high conservation status. Although the landscape context in northern Sweden is different from other areas in Europe, the mapping of historical land use as a starting point for prioritization of forest protection and restoration is likely to be equally valid.


The plural values of nature – lessons learnt at different science-policy interfaces

Dr Eszter Kelemen, ESSRG Ltd., Budapest, Hungary & Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Valuing nature has undergone conceptual and methodological developments in the last decades, which helped policy implementation on one hand, but raised concerns and scientific debates on the other. Global science-policy interfaces – the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, TEEB and IPBES – has played a key role in shaping this field and impacted scientific research as well as regional and national level science-policy interactions. The presentation will introduce the IPBES values approach by giving insights on the ongoing global assessment on values and valuation, and by highlighting some major differences between this and previous approaches (i.e. MEA and TEEB). In the closing part of the presentation examples will be shared on how conceptual and methodological developments realized at the global scale can enter policy processes at lower decision-making scales.


In search for evidence fit for practice

Dr Irina Herzon, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki

Through both my talk and workshop I’d like to take you on a journey of exploring how the patterns in biodiversity are matched by the ecological and other knowledge relevant to conservation. Are there divide lines in Europe in what we know and what we do not know? I will present insights from two review studies. Together we will ponder on what kinds of evidence are most needed for different regions in Europe, and what can be done to generate these. Finally, we will work through various ways, in which young career researchers in conservation biology could participate in the process of delivering evidence fit for practice.


From Conservation Science to Conservation Policy: saving species and sites

Dr. Juliet Vickery, Head of International Research, Centre of Conservation Science, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge

Research undertaken by conservation scientists needs to go beyond publication in a peer reviewed journal – it needs to be communicated to key decision makers such that it can be used to inform and underpin conservation action. In this talk I will outline some key components of science, and its communication, that enhance the likelihood that will be ‘listened to’ beyond the scientific arena. To do this I draw on ‘lessons learned’ from a range of work undertaken by the RSPB, Europe’s largest conservation NGO. These include work where the results have, and have not, had an impact in terms of conservation action. They include working with Industry in relation to albatross by-catch in long line fisheries, working with conventions in relation to conserve migrant and resident birds, and working with governments and legislation to establish marine and terrestrial protected areas. Common themes to emerge include the need for strong science to identify the problem and the solution, a strong policy environment in which to operate, good open dialogue between science and policy and the value of personal relationships between these two communities.