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Monday, 1 December 2014

From different knowledge sytems to decision-making - congress report from Hungary

The 9th Hungarian Conference on Conservation Biology was held in Szeged between 20 and 23 November supported by the SCB Europe Section and the Hungarian Chapter. As the latest meeting of a 12-year-long congress series, this conference clearly showed some interesting and new approach and directions in conservation science in Hungary. As the first congress in Sopron (2002) covered topics from habitat management to species conservation issues, this 2,5 day-long meeting addressed among other issues the role of international conservation policies and processes (e.g. IPBES), the impacts of the EU CAP, the influence of post-normal attributes and the significance of other knowledge systems (e.g. traditional ecological knowledge) in facing conservation challenges. 

Diversity of topics and views and the increasing contribution of social scientists made this congress a progressive event with the aim to integrate different disciplines and perspectives.  Participants (more than 27o) came also from a diverse background - researchers, practitioners, national park staff, NGOs, students. 

T. Hartel at the opening talk

In his opening talk, SCB-ES Board member Tibor Hartel presented the outcomes of a complex study of socio-ecological-economical systems in Transsylvania. A rapidly changing socio-economic system with a shifting population, disappearing traditional land-use practices and a region facing the impacts of incoming CAP money and land-grabbing processes: what is the future vision for this area? This is one of the key question addressed by this transdisciplinary research.  

During the evenings round table discussions revolved around the concept of ecosystem services and its usability in conservation, bridging the gap between science and practice, wilderness areas and national park zones. Human population growth and the question of virtual and real field identification were also discussed during the evening meetings. Post-congress excursions visited the  Kiskunság National Park and the Körös-Maros National Park.

Since serious concerns have been raised by the conservation community due to the latest governmental measures, the Congress approved a statement advocating  for the integrity and autonomy of the conservation insitutions and national parks in Hungary. 

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