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ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network

Europe’s ecosystem research network


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Information about ALTER-Net's 1st Summer School

Summer school - terraceIn 2006 ALTER-Net EU successfully ran its first Summer School in Peyresq, Alpes de Haute-Provence, France. The Summer School topic was Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Ecological and Socio-economic Aspects. The school offered a unique opportunity to explore this important issue with like-minded post-graduate students and young scientists.

The set-up of the summer school was closely related to the vulnerability assessment approach that has been developed within the EU 5th Framework project “Advanced Terrestrial Ecosystem Analysis and Modelling” (ATEAM) and applied to a wide range of biodiversity and other ecosystem service issues.

The interactive structure of the summer school included two morning lectures till noon, daily teamwork of the participants, followed by an “aperitif talk” in the late afternoon. Time for discussion was available after each presentation which nurtured good contacts between the students and scientists and experts. An excursion aimed to foster discussions between participants, students and stakeholders while acquainting with local environmental problems.

Summer school - poster sessionThe afternoon of the arrival day was dedicated to the welcome and first introduction by the conveners and a round tour of the village Peyresq guided by Jean Vancompernolle, a representative of the foundation, who was already active in the reconstruction of the village in the 50`s. During the first two days all participants presented posters explaining their own research activities - this helped to get faster acquainted with each other. The talks on the first days were dedicated to the basics of environmental change and biodiversity in a physical as well as a social sense. Then the data and scenario topics were covered followed by the economics of ecosystems. The ecological modelling of ecosystem services was represented by covering the mountain ecosystems. The issue of biodiversity was explained not only on terrestrial examples but one talk gave an overview of biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems.

ALTER-Net itself as a “Network of Excellence” was presented by Karl Baadsvik, the chair of the science board of the summer school. The public perception of biodiversity was the last topic covered by the lectures. Five working groups had been formed by the participants who worked on vulnerability assessments on regions in the Alps on four different themes (water, agriculture and forestry, tourism, nature conservation) and one group studied the interaction and synthesised the outcome. The groups were usually working during the early afternoon and applied the lessons learned from the talks for their chosen theme. At the end of the summer school the working groups presented the results of their case study and the conveners finished the summer school by a wrap up of the poster sessions and of the whole summer school with a look into the future of the summer school. After this closure the participants have been asked to return the evaluation questionnaires which have been included in the summer school folders.

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