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Many cities are making efforts to improve green structures in the city. The EU focuses on this topic and is looking for ways to achieve the necessary transition. Questions of land competition, refinancing and the desired type of green structures shape the discussion. The EU Mission points out that the participation of the population and the consideration of their needs play a decisive role for the implementation. Therefore, the aim of the project is to provide the necessary strategic background knowledge for an improved, tailored and broad implementation of urban greening in Austria through a representative online survey and to apply the results with selected stakeholder groups.

Growing urbanization belongs to major global challenges for many reasons. Urban areas are human-environment systems that depend fundamentally on ecosystems, and therefore require an understanding of the management of urban ecosystem services to ensure sustainable urban planning. Forest areas, especially those located in close proximity to urban amenities play an important role in Central Europe, as they provide crucial cultural ecosystem services to city inhabitants and largely contribute to their psycho-physical health and well-being. The social functions of forests are becoming increasingly recognized as being very important for the society. A significant body of research has been done in the field of conceptualization and quantification of ecosystem services (ES) in order to provide better understanding of social-ecological systems. This project focuses on cultural ecosystem services (CES) provided by urban and sub-urban forest sites in metropolitan areas of two capital cities: Vienna (Austria) and Warsaw (Poland). In particular, it aims to explore current international BIG DATA resources and investigate their potential and limitations for studing social demand for nature and the supply function of forest ecosystems within recreational context. Multiple digital data resources including those coming from ICT (mobile phone data, social media, Volunteered Geographic Information), open spatial data along with socio-empirical observations based on online panel survey accompanied by Public Participation GIS will be used in the project. They will be integrated and jointly used to investigate spatially explicit human mobility around metropolis and therefore also the need and use of forests in the study areas. Interdisciplinary team of scientists from Austria and Poland combine their expertise in social science, forestry, recreation monitoring along with geoinformation and big data analytics to address innovative research subject using most recent data resources and technological advances. The project will use an advanced cyber-infrastructure provided by the Centre for Scientific Geospatial Analyses and Satellite Computations of the Warsaw University of Technology, in order to track human mobility and develop spatially explicit models of cultural ecosystem services in urban and sub-urban forest areas around studied metropolis.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-07-01 - 2026-06-30

NaturaConnect aims to support the development of a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N), through a combination of stakeholder engagement across scales and interdisciplinary research to develop spatial planning and other policy support tools. Stakeholder engagement both at the European scale, and in a set six of case studies at transborder, national and sub-national scales, will elicit preferences from decision-makers about conservation targets, harness best protected area management practices and funding mechanisms, and test the TEN-N spatial prioritization analysis and tools produced by NaturaConnect. This will address two of the major obstacles identified by the Fitness Check of the EU Nature Legislation: lack of stakeholder awareness and cooperation, and insufficient knowledge and access to existing funding mechanisms. Interdisciplinary research in NaturaConnect will develop state-of-the-art models on the distribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services across Europe and how it may change under future climate and land-use scenarios, in order to identify gaps in the current protected area coverage and to establish ecological corridors to restore connectivity and promote rewilding. Such spatial analysis benefits tremendously from an European level analysis as many important areas for biodiversity occur in border areas, species move regularly across countries, sometimes over great distances as in the case of birds, and EU level priorities are better identified at the continental scale. The biodiversity and ecosystem service datasets and the tools to explore spatial priorities and connectivity restoration will be made publicly available in an interactive FAIR and open science compliant web platform, as a contribution to the European Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity (KCBD). This addresses a third major obstacle identified by the Nature Fitness Check: limited availability of knowledge. The NaturaConnect consortium brings together an interdisciplinary team of scientists working on biodiversity modelling, ecosystem service modelling, scenario development, spatial prioritization, connectivity, rewilding and conservation management, several of them recognized as being international leaders in their fields. Complementarily, the NaturaConnect consortium involves a range of non-governmental conservation organizations that have been involved in protected area management with multiple stakeholders and in the development of biodiversity policies at the European or regional level, including the largest federation of protected areas in Europe and some of the most influential conservation organizations.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations