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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

From the Greek Mountains - Impressions of the SCB Summer School in Conservation Biology

26 June 2014, Thursday, Day 4
The morning session continued with Alessandro (Chiaurcci)’s talk about biodiversity partitioning. By lunchtime, the teams were formed and their project titles established, and they started to develop experimental protocols. Two groups will be analysing bird data, one will work on butterflies, and one on plant communities. Although only small datasets can be collected in such a short time, this is still a useful opportunity to hone skills in experimental design, and start practicing in this difficult ”art of compromise”. The afternoon was spent in the field; the weather continues to be warm and sunny. After dinner, I gave a talk on ecosystem services, including the recent update on the global valuation, published ca. two weeks ago, that upped the global value of ecosystem services to about 200 trillion US$/year.This is much higher than the 1997 estimate, and a multiple of the global GDP calculated in the usual way. There followed a lively debate about the usefulness and acceptability of economic valuation of ESs that flowed onto a discussion about monetising various human activities and values, and our attitude towards nature. Apparently, field work did not tire out the participants’ thirst for discussions. We have also learned that the University of Ioannina will formally take over the school as their field station, and the handover will be signed next Tuesday. As there are not many field stations in the Mediterranean, this site could be an attractive location for field-based courses for European universities.
Gabor Lovei

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