The goal of our Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Europe Section Blog is to share stories and relevant information about activities going on within our section and more broadly in the conservation community. Stories and articles shared on our blog should not be taken as an official position or statement of SCB or SCB Europe Section. Thank you for reading!

Monday, 25 February 2013

East meets West – a workshop to discuss transferring conservation approaches between Eastern and Western European farmed landscapes

From dehesas to machair, from steppe to alpine grasslands we live on a diverse continent, especially where farmed landscapes are concerned. What we share, however, is a growing conservation problem, and a need to produce both locally appropriate and internationally coherent biodiversity strategies.

One major barrier to this is the underrepresentation of eastern countries in European conservation. Despite being some of the most species rich areas in Europe, due to higher proportions of semi-natural habitats and lower levels of agricultural intensification, relatively little research is carried out in Eastern Europe and published internationally.

ISI Web of Science search, 2012: (agricultur* OR farmland) AND ("species richness" OR biodivers*). 3500 papers were summarized. With thanks to András Báldi for kindly providing the illustration.

As a result, we are facing a situation where, for example, inappropriate conservation measures based on western research in highly modified landscapes are being applied in semi-natural eastern areas. Vice versa, restoration measures are being carried out in western habitats without full knowledge of what could be restored, which could be gained from intact eastern landscapes.

In order to address this mismatch, 45 participants working in farmland conservation from 21 European countries gathered in Göttingen between the 13th-15th February 2013 to discuss East-West differences in conservation, and how these might be addressed. Organised by researchers from the University of Göttingen and financed by the Volkswagen Foundation, the workshop consisted of 39 talks covering a wide range of systems and geographical areas, culminating in a discussion session to link up the issues raised over the previous two days.

Participants of the East meets West workshop

We’d like to thank all the participants who contributed their time, knowledge and enthusiasm to make this a successful and enjoyable workshop! We hope that this will be the start of many new collaborations and initiatives to fill the research gaps as well as improving the application of the knowledge that we have. For more information please visit the workshop website.

Related publications:

Báldi A, Batáry P (2011): Spatial heterogeneity and farmland birds: different perspectives in Western and Eastern Europe. Ibis 153: 875-876.

Tryjanowski, P., Hartel, T., Báldi, A., Szymański, P., Tobolka, M., Herzon, I., Goławski, A., Konvička, M., Hromada, M., Jerzak, L., Kujawa, K., Lenda, M., Orłowski, G., Panek, M., Skórka, P, Sparks, T.H., Tworek, S., Wuczyński, A. & Żmihorski, M. (2011). Conservation of farmland birds faces different challenges in Western and Central-Eastern Europe Acta Ornithologica, 46, 1-12.

Laura Sutcliffe (
Péter Batáry (

University of Göttingen, Germany

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