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8 April 2020

Eco-Corridors 2.0

ConnectGREEN in the time of COVID-19.

By Hildegard Meyer

Social distancing has become the responsible way to go in the current times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adaptation, therefore, is a must. That is why the Interreg DTP ConnectGREEN project held its first online Project Partners (PP) and Steering Committee (SC) Meeting. Originally intended to be held in Prague, Czech Republic, the overall 4th PP & SC meeting gathered 44 participants last 31 March who were set to find the ways out to the new-born challenges to the implementation of some of the project’s activities due to the coronavirus context.

In that line and facing the incoming bans for personal meetings and bigger events, some project activities need to be adapted or moved to a later date. Others, such as desktop related activities or those that can be organised online, will continue as planned.

From the online PP meeting, the update on the methodology on the identification of ecological corridors showed how it is shaping due to a previously performed field testing and quality assessment. Based on modelling and fieldwork, the map of ecological corridors in the Carpathians got a substantial step forward. Currently, experts work on the critical zones for ecological corridors and spatial planning in the pilot areas, which will be the basis for the action plans for mitigating threats to corridors. Among others, the work comprises the collection of bear, lynx and wolf occurrence data, inventory of barriers, analysis of land use plans and meetings with stakeholders to discuss the findings.

Good news come from the thus-far smallest pilot area around Piatra Craiului National Park – Bucegi National Park. The pilot area will be extended towards the west to the Făgăras Mountains. Landowners and managers agreed to collaborate.

Despite the limitations due to the pandemic, field work had been addressed before the outbreak, allowing for operations of the project to continue for many deliverables.

The e-Corridors

Basic material was collected for the development of the Guidelines on reducing conflicts in corridor areas. The Guidelines will be offered as an interactive tool on the Carpathian Countries Integrated Biodiversity Information System online platform (CCIBIS).

Even more, the draft e-learning training tool on ecological corridors was presented during the online meeting. This tool is intended to help protected area practitioners and spatial planners. Also updated during the meeting was the strategy on ecological corridors in the Carpathians, which had been already introduced to and discussed with the representatives of the Carpathian Convention during an online meeting held on 10-11 March 2020.

Unfortunately, the IENE Conference, the Forum Carpaticum, the IUCN World Congress and others will be postponed. ConnectGREEN partners had been heavily involved for the preparation of presentations, posters, panel discussions and side events within the aforementioned. Nevertheless, ConnectGREEN project partners will look forward to the future opportunity to contribute to these important events at the Carpathian, European and global level.

In the meantime, the project’s immediate next steps include the development of a roadmap on how to address the current circumstances, what can be implemented in time — in a planned or adapted way — and what needs to be postponed. Be it on a physical manner or via online means, ConnectGREEN partners will continue its hard work to render forward the much-needed results Carpathian eco-corridors require.