Three initiatives of EBCC meet for the first time in Mikulov on a joint workshop of EBBA2, PECBMS and EBP

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Mikulov castle, photo by Michal Klajban, licenced via Wikimedia Commons

During the first week of November, CSO has together with EBCC organized the first joint workshop of the new European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA2), Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) and EuroBirdPortal (EBP) in Mikulov, Czech Republic. Altogether, the workshop gathered 96 participants from 41 European countries that were able to meet and discuss future work and progress of the initiatives. The workshop was under the auspices of Pavel Bělobrádek, Deputy Prime Minister for the Science, Research and Innovation in Czech Republic.

From 2 till 5 of November 2015, the first joint workshop of EBBA2, PECBMS and EBP was held in Mikulov, Czech Republic. All three initiatives are under the umbrella of EBCC (European Bird Census Council) and the workshop was organized by the Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO). It managed to gather as much as 96 participants coming from 41 European countries.

EBBA2 is currently half-way through the project and exciting times lie ahead. An inspirational introduction about the importance of the initiatives, which would be impossible to achieve without the cooperation of all the workshop participants and their networks was given by Ruud Foppen, the chair of the EBCC board.

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Ruud Foppen, the chair of the EBCC board, giving an introduction to the workshop (photo by Jana Škorpilová)

Short overview of the activities and time schedule of the project were given by Petr Voříšek from CSO and Sergi Herrando from Catalan Ornithological Institute (ICO).  A new tool, Map Checker, was developed by ICO and presented to the plenum. Its purpose is to enable the national coordinators to quickly and easily check and change the data for each individual 50×50 km square within their own country. Important decisions on the way forward with the real data provisions have also been made – plenum agreed on providing ICO the data in 2016 on selected 15 species which will result in preliminary maps of these species. These maps will hopefully show the policy makers and funders the significance and magnitude of both temporal and spatial scale of the entire EBBA2.

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Petr Voříšek presenting the state of EBBA2 in 2015 (photo by Jana Škorpilová)

During the workshop, national coordinators from all parts of Europe presented their work and showed significant progress and achievements since the EBBA2 start, but also pointed out various problems that different countries face while collecting the data for the Atlas. David Noble from BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) presented the latest UK Atlas that was published in 2013. It was the largest data collection effort in the UK so far, with 20 000 people contributing to it. Irina Levinsky from Denmark presented the preliminary results of the 3rd Danish Atlas that will continue during the two following breeding seasons. Joint work of as many as 1200 volunteers ensures an optimistic  perspective for compiling the Danish Atlas. A particularly motivating presentation was held by Mikhail Kalyakin who talked about the Atlas work experience in European Russia which covers as much as 40% of the entire European territory. Although the aim of Russian colleagues was to cover at least 600 squares (out of 1900) by the end of the mapping in 2017, they already have more than 700 squares in December 2015! The differences in human capacity and the development of citizen science projects in Europe was particularly evident in the lecture by Danka Uzunova from Macedonia where in total only 12 people provided the data for the Atlas, out of which 7 were foreign birdwatchers. Continuing on this issue, there were lots of discussions on how to build capacity and sustainability in eastern and south-eastern countries, with representatives of Armenia, Serbia and Ukraine presenting their own experience with either financial and/or training support they received from MAVA foundation in the previous year.

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Mihkail Kalyakin presenting Russian Atlas (photo by Jana Škorpilová)

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Irina Levinsky presenting Danish Atlas (photo by Jana Škorpilová)

Hopefully, the existing problems in countries of south-eastern and eastern Europe will be reduced through the continuation of the activities and finances from the MAVA foundation within the next 2 years. The potential of this project is also to contribute to the establishment of a long-term and sustainable platform for bird mapping and monitoring in these countries. Another promising perspective for filling in the gaps in EBBA2 was presented by the EuroBird Portal and its partners through the usage of opportunistic and systematic data collected through on-line portals.

It is clear that EBBA2 still faces many challenges in the following years that will need to be solved along the way. However, during the workshop it clearly emerged that the enthusiasm and cooperation in making the new Atlas a reality is present in all the countries that participated.

Hopefully, with further cooperation of all enthusiastic fieldworkers we will be able to achieve our final goal and make EBBA2 happen.

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Workshop participants (photo by Vojtěch Brlík)

You can download all workshop presentations here.

14.12.2015., Marina Kipson