The Mid-term conference was held as a hybrid event on 23rd September 2021 in Visitor Centar Poklon, Nature park Učka. The organization BIOM successfully hosted 46 participants from Croatia, Slovenia, BiH, Italy, Greece, Albania, and Montenegro. Irena Bertoncelj, the representative of Agricultural Institute of Slovenia as the Lead partner, and Marina Grgić the representative of BIOM Association welcomed all participants and provided introductory remarks. AIS gave a short overview of the DINAPLCONNECT project and its main activities.

The Mid-term conference included numerous productive presentations of project partners from the following organizations: EURAC Research, Association DINARICA, Development Solutions Associates project partner from Albania, and Slovenia Forest Service project partner from Slovenia.

Peter Laner presented EURAC work within work package T1, Valorisation of agricultural and forested landscapes for ecological connectivity potential where he pointed out the assessmentof the current state of ecological connectivity, the process of finding core areas, stepping stones, and barriers.

I am very glad that I could present the results today after working on the mapping methodology for one year, at last, we are at the final stage of the model. The situation will be very interesting since we have to start a big discussion on it and show it to someone outside the project consortium and distribute it to stakeholders.” – highlighted Peter Laner from EURAC Research after the Mid-term conference.

DINARICA team informed about recent field research of brown bear and meadow viper on the pilot region that will feed into necessary measures for improving ecological connectivity in the region. It was highlighted that one brown bear will be marked with telemetry in the Una National Park, and collected data will be used as input for the Action Plan for the Cro-BiH Pilot Region.

Development Solutions Associates project partner from Albania presented their work in work package T3 Network of transboundary Pilot regions. DSA is planning to make an IT solution for gathering data about PBB and BBB and produce a long list of PBB and BBB.

Andreja NèveRepe, the representative of Slovenia Forest Service shortly explained what has been done so far in work package T2 Develop Action plans for Pilot regions to promote ecological connectivity on the transboundary level. SFS prepared the Report on situation analysis of current agricultural and forestry practices affecting EC in Pilot Regions. The main conclusion is that agricultural practices influence drainage of wet grasslands, tourism, recreation, abandonment of agricultural land, the introduction of non-native species, unsustainable use of plant protection products, and excessive fertilization of meadows. Also, forestry practices influence deforestation, infrastructure, climate changes, natural hazards, urbanization, tourism, anthropogenic actions and economic development activities, pollutions.

Filippo Favilli described EURAC’s work in the work package T2, within the Activity T2.1 SWOT analysis of ecological connectivity in transboundary Pilot regions. The participants were informed about the main results of SWOT workshops for each pilot region. The results of SWOT will serve as the basis for the development of Action plans (WP2-A.4) and provide information on existing and future pro-biodiversity business (WP3-A.2).

Photo credit: Midterm Conference/Project’s archive

Photo credit: Mid-term conference/Project’s archive

The fruitful conference was completed and all participants had the opportunity to enjoy the natural attractions of Nature Park Učka. Accompanying guidance of Nature Park Učka employees, participants visited the presentation center in Poklon and the highest peak of Nature park Učka, Vojak.

Photo credit: Pilot area Učka/Project’s archive

Day after the Mid-term conference, on 24th September 2021, the 5thSteering committee meeting was also held. The meeting was attended by 38 participants from Croatia, Slovenia, BiH, Italy, Greece, Albania, and Montenegro. DINALPCONNECT team recapitulated and discussed their current results in improving ecological connectivity and preventing habitat fragmentation. Project partners summed up their achievements so far and discussed the remaining activities. Center for Energy, Environment and Resources (CENER 21) had a great opportunity to joyfully inform the team about the DINALPCONNECT involvement in ADRION Thematic Cluster on Coastal and Marine Environmental management to create synergies among similar projects. At the end of the meeting, the Steering Committee was updated with the new ideas within Cluster activities planned together with the project ECOVINEGOAL.

Photo credit: 5th Steering Committee Meeting/Project’s archive

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