TESS partners carried out several cases studies in local communities in order to test if local biodiversity monitoring could meet government requirements and decision support needs. These tests were also used to assess local attitudes and capabilities. In general, the studies comprised a socio-economic and a mapping work. The following communities were studied:
Municipality of Kerkini (Greece): some rare species of birds live or pass through this zone. Consequently, hunting and bird watching are becoming increasingly popular as the exploitation of rare species like the water buffalos. Together with ecotourism, the production of typical dishes and beverages based on local herbs and plants is increasing. The project aimed to help local people identify new sources of income related to tourism activities while protecting the area’s biodiversity. Horse riding, walking and climbing paths were mapped with the collaboration of local stakeholders. Even the paths of wild boar were mapped with the help of local hunters.
Laulasmaa Landscape Protection area (Estonia): This area was established in 2005 to protect sandy coast with permanent vegetation, forested dunes and limestone cliff, and is often visited for recreational purposes. Nevertheless, there are no special conditions for recreation. Along the study suitable paths for recreational use were mapped, trying to combine leisure with protection.
Bózsva (Hungary): this small village was affected by severe floods that made houses and bridges collapse, rotted crops and took away the roadbed. The case study comprised the mapping of the flooded places and the position of structures, and an assessment of endangered natural resources in order to forecast the impact of future floods. Additionally, a mapping of the bicycle path and its environment was carried as a way to foster ecotourism in the zone.
Zator (Poland): this region is characterized by high nature value and a local economy based on natural resources, mainly aquaculture. The case study aimed to demonstrate the potential of a voluntary system of mapping environmental and biodiversity aspects with modern GPS techniques. It also intended to develop a socio-economic project proposal for increasing natural resources sustainability of fishponds, based on bird watching, angling (fishing), recreational tourism and extensive aquaculture. An additional habitat and species map was developed for enabling both economic revitalization and biodiversity protection in fishponds.
Southeastern Alentejo (Portugal): the municipality of Barrancos is economically depressed but includes areas of high natural value.One of the main objectives of this case study was to set up a framework for shifting the activity towards biodiversity conservation. The study focused on mapping Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), conservation in Holm oak montados, and was used for comparing trained professional with untrained non-professional observers.
Sfantu Gheorghe commune (Romania): its economic activity is based on fishing, mainly Pontic shad and sturgeons, as well as other small species like sprat (Sprattus sprattus) and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus). Since 2006 sturgeon catching has been banned in Romania, and this has led this commune to an economic depression. The alternative is the involvement in tourism activities such as providing boat trips, guiding, accommodation or local cuisine and products. Local stakeholders worked on locating the resources, species and habitats, their abundance and their risks of exploitation. This information was used in local strategic planning and development.
Firtina Valley, Rize (Turkey): traditional incomes come from tea cultivation (on areas gained to the forest) and cattle breeding, with low contribution of tourism. Due to these activities, freshwaters are mainly polluted by pesticides, threatening the endemic sea trout (Salmon trutta labrax). The case study focused on reducing pollution created by agriculture, through increasing awareness and developing a system for monitoring water pollution and habitat degradation.
Egirdir lake, Isparta (Turkey): this lake provides water for drinking and irrigating mainly fruit trees. Pollution has reduced the water quality, increasing its biomass content and decreasing its plankton and fish populations. The case study aimed to reduce agricultural pollution while maintaining and improving the quantity of production, through irrigation systems transformation, and early warning systems for pest pollution.
Frome Catchment (United Kingdom): This work intended to analyse the linkages between human well-being and the benefits derived from ecosystem services. A first study handled assessment of the provision of selected ecosystem services, identified by local stakeholders. Within a second study, a mapping of native roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and its habitat was carried out with the support of the local council.
Mapping of the European Brown Hare (Germany): hunters from the whole country were involved in this study, which aimed to demonstrate the type of information generated at local level by a resource beneficiary group, and its adequacy to local and national policy requirements. A local mapping project was carried out by local hunters in Gehrden (Niedersachsen), assessing the local population of European brown hare (Lepus europaeus). This mapping study was integrated in a wider program within Lower Saxony, and provided a national program (Wildtier-Informationssystem der Länder Deutschlands) with data collected on the sightings, frequency and populations of wild animals.
As general conclusions, these studies demonstrated a general interest of local residents for having more data concerning biodiversity in their zones, although the motivations were slightly different (love of nature, knowledge demand, attachment to their community, etc.). Volunteers also showed high capability for managing maps and mapping technologies. In addition, local participants encountered problems during the socioeconomic project planning because of the lack of training and mistrust between locals and and authorities.
Transactional Environmental Support System (TESS) project. Final Report.