Introducing adaptive community based biodiversity management in urban areas for improved connectivity and ecosystem health (urbanLIFEcircles)

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Restoring and promoting a long term sustainable management of Fennoscandian wooded meadows in Estonia and Latvia (WOODMEADOWLIFE)

Restoring and promoting a long term sustainable management of Fennoscandian wooded meadows in Estonia and Latvia (WOODMEADOWLIFE)

Duration: 1 November 2021 - 31 December 2026

The Estonian-Latvian joint LIFE project (LIFE20 NAT/EE/000074) "Restoring and promoting a long-term sustainable management of Fennoscandian wooded meadows in Estonia and Latvia" focuses on the restoration of wooded meadows in Estonia and Latvia, creation of sustainable solutions for maintenance and on raising public awareness of the natural and cultural heritage of wooded meadows and their protection and management. WOODMEADOWLIFE will improve the conservation status of wooded meadows in Boreal Biogeographic region by restoring Estonian and Latvian wooded meadows and establishing the system for their long-term management throughout both countries. By doing that, it will significantly contribute to the overall conservation status of 6530* in the EU, as both countries host 60% of all wooded meadows in the Boreal Biogeographic region. 
 The overall long-term objective of this project is to restore significant areas of priority EU habitat 6530* Fennoscandian wooded meadows (700 ha in two countries), develop agreements, guidelines and smart solutions for their future management and highlight their ecosystem services, ecological functions and unique heritage value in both countries.

Project participants: Aveliina Helm, Triin Reitalu, Elisabeth Prangel, Elvi Liiv

Funding: LIFE program, Environmental Investment Centre (KIK)

See also the project's page on Environmental Board's webpage.

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Interactive effects of local and landscape scale restoration of semi-natural grasslands and agricultural fields on species interactions and ecosystem functions (InterRest)

Interactive effects of local and landscape scale restoration of semi-natural grasslands and agricultural fields on species interactions and ecosystem functions (InterRest)

Duration: 2022-2025

Calcareous grasslands were created by traditional land use in European cultural landscapes and are one of the most species-rich habitat types. They harbour many rare and highly endangered species but are nowadays often threatened, mainly by abandonment and eutrophication. Hence, restoration measures are urgently needed. However, transnational restoration approaches are missing and evaluations within regional restoration schemes focus usually only on indicator species or species richness and ignore their biotic interactions, ecosystem functions and the landscape context. Especially species interactions are important indicators of restoration success as they are often more sensitive to environmental changes and determine vital functions that are necessary to stabilize ecosystems.

In this project we will investigate species interactions across different trophic levels including (1) plant-soil, (2) plant-pollinator and (3) bird-food resource interactions, in restored and degraded calcareous grasslands that are embedded in different socio-ecological and landscape contexts in three countries (Germany, Spain and Estonia). Additionally, we will measure ecosystem functions including soil functions, pollination and predation. We hypothesize that local restoration measures will lead to more complex and stable interactions and improved ecosystem functions compared to degraded sites. Moreover, we will investigate whether landscape-scale restoration with agri-environment schemes can make local restoration more effective through additive or synergistic effects. We will also analyse the social contexts of the restoration programs and identify key actors who are necessary to achieve local and landscape restoration goals. The results of our project will contribute to several Aichi targets by focussing on habitats with extremely high conservation value. They will inform the European Habitats Directive on the effects of restoration measures on species interactions and ecosystem functions and how they are linked to social networks. Knowledge of the contribution of agri-environment schemes at the landscape scale to the restoration of calcareous grasslands can be integrated in the Common Agricultural Policy. The project will contribute to safeguarding the precious biodiversity in calcareous grasslands, their interactions and functions and promote resilient ecosystems in European cultural landscapes. InterRest is a Biodiversa project where we collaborate with scientists from Germany, Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Netherlands.

Project participants: Aveliina Helm, Tsipe Aavik, Triin Reitalu, Elisabeth Prangel, Elvi Liiv

Funding: Estonian Research Council 

 

See also the project's official website and the project description in ETIS

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Country-wide assessment and mapping of the economic value of ecosystem services provided by Estonian terrestrial ecosystems

Country-wide assessment and mapping of the economic value of ecosystem services provided by Estonian terrestrial ecosystems

Duration: 2021 july- 2023 january

The project develops a conceptual basis and methodology for economic valuation of nature's contributions to people (ecosystem services) provided by Estonian terrestrial ecosystems (forests, wetlands, grasslands, agricultural ecosystems). Indicators of economic value will be developed for selected ecosystem services, and spatially detailed assessment will be carried out for chosen protected areas and country-wide. The project will provide indicators and maps needed to value nature's contributions to people and integrate ecosystems and their services into decision-making in Estonia.

Project participants: Aveliina Helm, Elisabeth Prangel, Elvi Liiv

Funding: Estonian Environment Agency

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LIFE IP project "ForEst&Farmland"

Comprehensive management of forest and farming landscapes to improve the conservation status of Natura 2000 habitats and species

Duration: 2020 January - 2029 December

The project is developed to tackle different conservation challenges that influence the values of Estonian most diverse ecosystems. Estonia is a sparsely populated country with vast territories covered with forests, wetlands and arable land, and where the historic land use has resulted in heterogenic and diverse landscapes. Socio-economic situation is changing – Estonia has been rapidly developing and rural areas face new challenges, mainly intensifying management due to different reasons that takes place both in forest and farming landscapes. The project will focus on forests and arable land with high biodiversity, this includes seminatural grasslands, fields, pastures and other types of arable land and a range of different forest ecosystems. The practices and methodologies to be developed and tested in the project will be of high demonstration value also for other regions and countries of the EU. 

In this project, our workgroup is involved with the sustainable management of semi-natural grasslands and ensuring the biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Together with our partners, we will help launch a councelling system for semi-natural grasslands, restore grasslands and help with communication. In agricultural landscapes, we will create sample areas where crop yield and biodiversity are guaranteed thanks to science-based agroecological approaches. Together with farmers, we will test which agricultural practices are most effective in Estonia. We will work closely together with BirdLife to monitor the effectiveness of agri-environmental measures.

Project participants: Aveliina Helm, Tsipe Aavik, Marianne Kaldra, Rufus Trepp, Tanel Vahter

Partners: Ministry of the Environment (coordinator), Environmental Board, Ministry of Rural Affairs, State Forest Management Centre, BirdLife Estonia, Private Forest Centre, University of Tallinn, KEMIT

Funding: European Commission

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Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Centre of Excellence EcolChange

Duration: 2016 march - 2023 march

The Centre of Excellence EcolChange is created in cooperation of two universities, Estonian University of Life Sciences and University of Tartu. Head of the Centre is Professor Ülo Niinemets, Estonian University of Life Sciences. Our work group participates in the work of the Center of Excellence through the Macroecology work group. The EcolChange represents a synergistic network of expertise to elaborate global and local scenarios for terrestrial ecosystems in the context of global change, from molecular to biome-level responses. It aims to integrate studies of ecosystem function, biodiversity and adaptability, create symbiosis between macroecological big-data, genetic and experimental approaches and incorporate ecological knowledge into principles of adaptation to global change through sustainable ecosystem management. Furthermore, it aims to enhance ecologically sustainable economic growth via smart regional planning in forestry and agriculture.

Project participants: the whole work group

Funding: European Regional Development Fund

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Landscape-scale biodiversity restoration and time-lags in ecosystem functions (RESTFUNC)

Landscape-scale biodiversity restoration and time-lags in ecosystem functions (RESTFUNC)

Duration: 2020-2024

Increasing loss and fragmentation of many valuable habitats has led to widespread loss of biodiversity and decline of ecosystem functions. Ecological restoration enables to re-create suitable conditions for species and ecosystems suffering loss of habitat, and ensure the sustainable provision of vital ecosystem services. Restoration has mostly focused on re-creation of suitable environmental conditions and has paid considerably less attention to the importance of incorporating landscape-scale effects for achieving restoration success. There is also a considerable lack of knowledge regarding potential time-lags influencing the recovery of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, including important biotic interactions. In RESTFUNC, we will identify local and landscape-scale factors that are needed to consider when planning ecological restoration, study how to buffer and mitigate lags in ecosystem functions, and how to ensure landscape multifunctionality under changing land-use and climate. One of the first results of the project is the greenmeter (rohemeeter), which helps to assess the biodiversity of landscapes.

Project participants: Aveliina Helm, Krista Takkis, Triin Reitalu, Liis Kasari, Elisabeth Prangel, Linda Pall

Funding: Estonian Research Council (ETAg)

Project information in Estonian Research Information System

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Effect of land-use change on the provision of ecosystem services

Effect of land-use change on biodiversity and related ecosystem services

PhD project of Elisabeth Prangel, supervisor Aveliina Helm

Project duration: 2017-2021

Project focuses on effects of land-use change on biodiversity and on provision of important ecosystem services. One focus point of the project is to assess possible time lags in the dynamics of ecosystem service provision. Study will be mostly carried out on semi-natural grassland communities and agricultural landscapes that has undergone large changes during past century. Information obtained during the project will improve our ability to create well-functioning landscapes supporting biodiversity and maintaining viable ecosystem services.