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!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

News from SCB Europe Section Board December 2016

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News Highlights
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2018 European Congress of Conservation Biology in Jyväskylä, Finland!

Next Policy Committee meeting - February 11-12, 2017 in Eberswald, Germany!

Student Blogging Contests at SCCS Cambridge, ICCB Cartagena and SCCS Tihany 2017!

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We have had an exciting year within the Society for Conservation Biology Europe Section (SCB-ES)! Thanks to all who have contributed to SCB-ES in 2016! We would like to extend a special thank you to all the students and early career researchers who applied and contributed to our initiatives this year! 2016 has been an extremely active year and we hope to continue this into 2017 and beyond!

Ending on a high point we would like to take this opportunity to announce that the next European Congress for Conservation Biology is planned for 2018 in Jyväskylä, Finland! The board is busy working with the local organizing committee, and conference dates and venue will be announced in early 2017! We look forward to seeing you all in Jyväskylä!

Starting this December, we will be sharing bi-monthly updates from the SCB-ES board here on the blog, and plan to continue these updates into the future. We hope this initiative will help with keeping members better up-to-speed with what the board is up to and what current initiatives are in the works or available to our members. This month we are sharing updates from SCB-ES President, Piero Visconti as well as the Policy, Communications, and Membership committees.

Thank you again to all our members for a wonderful year! We look forward to 2017 and onward to 2018 for ECCB 2018 in Jyväskylä, Finland!

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Message from the outgoing SCB-ES President

As they say, all good things come to an end, and so it is also for my time as president of the SCB Europe Section. I have been in the SCB-ES board for 5 years, first as governor and later as president. It is now time for me to leave the helm in the capable hands of President-Elect, Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson who will step into the presidency from January 1st, and lead SCB-ES for the next four years. It is sad to leave the SCB-ES board as it has been an important part of my life for many years, but it is important that the section has an active leader that can dedicate 20-30% of their time that is required to keep-up good work. At the same time, it is important to have a rotating board, to bring fresh energy and new ideas. When leaving a leadership role, it is custom to look back at what was achieved and reflect on what was done and what awaits. I won’t be an exception, as this gives me the opportunity to thank those that made these achievements possible.

In 2014 and 2015 we joined forces with other professional societies, conservation organizations and research institutions to ensure that scientific evidence was taken into account during the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the fitness check of the EU Habitat and Birds directives and the management of Bialowieza National Park. We contributed to a positive outcome to protect the directives but more needs to be done to ensure the next CAP is biodiversity friendly and that natural ecological processes are safeguarded in the broader Bialowieza ecosystem.

The leadership and organization of the joint European and International Congresses of Conservation Biology (ICCB-ECCB) in Montpellier in 2015 was certainly the main achievement of the SCB-ES board since its birth in 2002. This was the largest conference ever organized by SCB, dwarfing all the others with its 2063 attendees, 782 poster presentations and 943 oral presentations organized in 74 contributed sessions and 73 symposia sessions. ICCB-ECCB was not only a success in attendance numbers but also in scientific and social content. The degree of satisfactions of the attendees was overwhelming, with people talking about the closing party and the plenary talks for months after the congress.

I would like to highlight a few of the achievements that were made in the design of ICCB-ECCB. First, special attention was put into ensuring that the proposals and abstract review process to ensure it was rigorous and fair. Second, we introduced normalization of abstract scores and a third reviewer for abstracts with controversial scores. Third, we maximized the number of talks at ICCB-ECCB by having 10 parallel sessions. Indeed, as head of the scientific committee, I was responsible for deciding how many abstracts were rejected from ICCB-ECCB, and I did my best to minimize rejections. It was extremely rewarding to offer more than 2000 scientists and practitioners an opportunity to disseminate their knowledge and experiences, and to learn and form collaborations with one another. The SCB-ES board strives to make conferences affordable for everyone, but thanks to generous grants from the Swedish government, we could subsidize tens of early career attendees with a fair and transparent process that prioritized those most in need of support and those for whom attending the conference would make the most difference. I am most proud of the networking opportunity that ICCB-ECCB created; perspective students meeting their future supervisors, job-seekers finding jobs, research ideas being generated and professional collaborations being formed. This is the main legacy that my presidency and the current board has left. 

In 2016, we continued our support for Early Career professionals by contributing financial resources to two Student Conferences for Conservation Science, one in Tihany and one in Cambridge. We subsidize attendance costs, provided training through workshops, and offered students insights into the many opportunities that early career conservation professionals can obtain through SCB and other professional societies. We also, for the first time, awarded the Early Career European Conservation Award. This went to Attila Nemeth to recognize his contribution to knowledge and conservation of blind mole rats in Europe. This will hopefully start a tradition of early career awards given by the section. In 2016, we also started a training grant to support early career conservationists’ attendance at training events. We also funded the Greek Summer School of Conservation Biology to provide training to a dozen students from all of Europe.  

The last two years have also seen a step change in the social media activity of the Section thanks to the opening of a Twitter account and the strong activity of the Communication Committee on this blog and on our Facebook page. We also opened 12 opportunities for students to share about their research or recent conference experiences through guest posts here on the SCB-ES blog.

The merit for all goes mostly to others, the section board and all its committees with whom I was fortunate enough to work with, I’d like to thank all board and committee members for their important contributions to the section. These are exciting times for SCB Europe, up to six new members could join the board next year and I expect the new board to be the youngest and most diverse SCB Europe has ever had. I wish the new board all the best for the future, and continued growth for SCB-ES to increase its support for conservation professionals.

See you all in Jyväskylä, Finland for ECCB 2018!

Post written by Piero Visconti, SCB-ES president 2015-2016

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Updates from Policy Committee 

Sub-regional and local policy statements: A recent topic of interest to our members deals with sub-regional and local policy statements. Based on a request from the Society for Conservation Biology’s Europe Section (SCB-ES) Board of Directors, the European Policy Committee has prepared a set of eligibility criteria for policy statements with sub-regional or local geographical scope. Statements by the SCB-ES generally address conservation issues on the European or EU level. While relatively few chapters continue to feed into SCB-ES, the section is responsible for handling sub-regional or local policy issues. However, we cannot currently attend to all those conservation issues of smaller scope. Accordingly we drafted text to clarify our current position and capabilities with regards to sub-regional or local policy statements: “for an activity of sub-regional or local scope to be eligible for an SCB-ES statement should highlight issues relating to outstanding biodiversity, address conservation issues of wider relevance, and have the potential to serve as a ground-truthing exercise, influence decision-making and provide local capacity and increase credibility, visibility and outreach of SCB’s work”. The SCB-ES Board of Directors recently approved this statement and criteria about sub-regional and local policy statements, and if any SCB-ES members have questions about this process, you can contact Stefan Kreft, Chair of the Policy Committee at stefan(dot)kreft(at)hnee(dot)de.

Lower Odra Valley National Park, Germany,
situated close to Eberswalde and bordering Poland (background). 
(Photo by: Stefan Kreft)

What’s coming up? The next few months will be busy for the Policy Committee. We are currently preparing for our next PC meeting on February 11-12, 2017. We will gather in Eberswalde (Germany) for a workshop about biodiversity and conservation in Europe. This workshop will allow us to systematically derive a strategic framework for SCB-ES Policy Committee work in the coming years. Furthermore, our Roadless Initiative is running on high momentum, in expectation of an upcoming important publication we have been working on fopr years. On December 16th, the Roadless Initiative will publish a press release. There will also be an entirely new website and coverage on SCB's homepage, so check it on December 16th! We are very excited about the Roadless Initiative reaching this important milestone, and look forwarding to sharing all news with members in 2017! 

Post written by Stefan Kreft, SCB-ES Policy Committee Chair

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Updates from Communications and Membership Committee

Student guest blogging on SCB-ES Blog: The SCB-ES communications and membership committee has had a busy year, including rewarding 12 students the opportunity to share a guest blog post on the SCB-ES blog! The most recent guest blog post was about marine protected areas and local ecological knowledge, a post by Adam Rees. There are two more planned posts from students who attended SCCS Tihany, and those will be live in mid-December. We look forward to sharing these last few posts and to the opportunity to continue supporting student blogging on the SCB-ES blog. We will be continuing the student blogging contests into 2017, and will host contests at the Student Conference on Conservation Science in Cambridge and Tihany, and at the International Congress for Conservation Biology! Students attending any of these three conferences, and who are SCB-ES members, will be eligible to apply for our blogging contests! The SCB-ES student blogging contest aims to offer students a platform to share about their research or recent experiences at conferences or workshops with a broad audience, and to extend them the opportunity and experience to work with SCB science communication professionals to refine their writing skills. We look forward to sharing more student's stories in 2017!

What's coming up? In 2016 we gained a new committee member, Isabel Vique. Isabel has already contributed to our on going improvements in social media and communications, but in 2017 she and board member Petra Mihalic will be taking on a new activity for women in science! In 2017, Isabel and Petra are leading the organization of a series of talks by women in science in Europe to complement the Ted Women 2017 event in San Francisco! We are very excited about the development of this initiative, which will take place in late fall 2017! We will work closely with our members to identify speakers, and invite members to share their ideas about additional events they would like to see and might be willing to support in their region! More information on the Women in Science speaker series will be released in early 2017; keep an eye on our blog and social media outlets for details! 

Post written by Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley, SCB-ES Communications and Membership Committee Chair

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