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Project Summary and Aims

The project EnvEurope was born and will develop inside the European Long-Term Ecosystem Research Network (LTER-Europe) community.

EnvEurope was conceived synergistically dealing with several key targets and in response to challenges of research within the Long-Term Ecosystem Research in Europe site network (LTER-Europe). The project has been structured to play a role in the conceptual and operative context of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) promoted by the European Commission and in the development of some components of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), a joint initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency.

Within this context the project intends to lay the foundations for a more integrated system for successful long-term ecosystem research and monitoring at the European level, focused on understanding status, trends and changes of environmental quality and on the elaboration of relevant detection systems and methods.

Joining the efforts of 11 countries belonging to the LTER Europe network the main target of the project is the definition of appropriate environmental quality indicators with an integrated long-term, broad scale, cross-domain (terrestrial, continental, wetlands and marine ecosystems) approach. Through a cause-effect process EnvEurope will contribute mainly to the definition of the potential and effective use of long-term datasets in identifying and addressing important scientific questions, while, in the future, it will allow integration of the specific information and knowledge into EU environmental policies, strategies and development programs.

Capitalizing on the wide geographic spread of the partners, the project intends to develop an integrated environmental information management system contributing to the technical components of Shared Environmental Information System for Europe (SEIS) and accessible to the scientific community but also to EU environmental policy makers, conservation planners and stakeholders.

EnvEurope is also concerned with contributing to the GMES initiative. The LTER-Europe network, with its sites located across Europe’s environmental zones, can certainly play an important role as an official validation network and in situ data provider for GMES; it will contribute to this process by addressing up-scaling issues and providing independent validation of GMES products with in situ collected data.

In light of the broad-scale and cross-domain strategy, the main goals of the project have been broken down into six main “Actions” basically aiming to:

  • Provide ecological data and information on long-term trends of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystem quality at the European scale, with reference to habitat types (including Natura 2000 network) and environmental gradients. The analysis of the long-term ecological series of data and its comparison at the appropriate scales, across eco-domains will supply a relevant scientific support to the EU environmental policy and conservation plans in an integrated ecosystem approach.
  • Provide and develop an integrated Information Management System on status and long-term trend of environmental quality both at European level and at several smaller scales. This implies semantically consistent data architectures enabling seamless drill down from metadata to data, accessible not only to the scientific community, but also to policy-makers and stakeholders. Experiences from this activity as a test case and feasibility study will be of high value for the development of the technical components of the SEIS.
  • Develop and setting-up in the field an integrated and permanent site-system to detect and evaluate changes in environmental quality across Europe. This objective will be achieved by using harmonized methods, proposed and shared by the whole LTER-Europe scientific and technical community, thus substantially contributing to the work of the LTER-Europe expert panel on standardization.
  • Select, on the basis of ecological long-term data and feasibility test in the field, a set of key environmental quality indicators sensitive to defined major pressures and drivers. This will be done in the context of a joint and interactive knowledge exchange between science and policy, through a process of scientific selection, integration and aggregation on one side, and of knowledge production and use on the other. Within this context the stakeholder perspectives will be integrated as a fundamental tool to determine both indicator quality and acceptance.
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