Linking biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services in the Great Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem (GSME) – drivers of change, causalities and sustainable management strategies.
The direct dependence of humans on ecosystem services is by far strongest in developing regions where poverty restricts access to resources.
This poverty restricts access to resources. This dependency also makes people in developing countries more sensitive to climate change than their developed counterparts. Increasing human populations deteriorates natural habitat, biodiversity and ecosystems services which spiral into poverty and low human welfare. This calls for innovative solutions that encompass the entire socio-ecological-economic system, as recognized on a global scale in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. However, innovative and practical solutions require downscaling to regional levels for identifying concrete sets of drivers of change. For Africa specifically, the interplay of human population growth, land use change, climate change and human well-being is a major challenge.
This project focuses on the Serengeti-Maasai Mara Ecosystem and associated agricultural areas, a region in East Africa that encompasses parts of Kenya and Tanzania. The ecosystem is world-famous for key aspects of its biodiversity, such as the migration of 1.3 million wildebeest. This ‘flagship ecosystem’ role will enhance the international interest in the project. In this project, internationally leading researchers from Norway, the Netherlands, Scotland, Denmark and Germany are teaming up with strong local partners in Tanzania and Kenya. The research will be organised in seven interlinked work packages: 1) assemble and integrate the so far separate Kenyan and Tanzanian relevant data on the region; 2) quantify the connections between human population growth, land use change, climate change and biodiversity change; 3) test how biodiversity change leads to changes in key ecosystem services; 4) quantify the dependence of human livelihoods on these ecosystem services. We will implement innovative ways for communication and dissemination of the results of ‘continuous engagement’ by local stakeholders.
Knowledge, Assessment, and Management for AQUAtic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services aCROSS EU policies (AQUACROSS)
AQUACROSS aims to support EU efforts to enhance the resilience and stop the loss of biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems as well as to ensure the ongoing and future provision of aquatic ecosystem services.
It focuses on advancing the knowledge base and application of the ecosystem-based management concept for aquatic ecosystems by developing cost effective measures and integrated management practices. AQUACROSS considers the EU policy framework (i.e. goals, concepts, time frames) for aquatic ecosystems and builds on knowledge stemming from different sources (i.e. WISE, BISE, Member State reporting, modelling) to develop innovative management tools, concepts, and business models (i.e. indicators, maps, ecosystem assessments, participatory approaches, mechanisms for promoting the delivery of ecosystem services) for aquatic ecosystems at various scales. It thereby provides an unprecedented effort to unify policy concepts, knowledge, and management concepts of freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems to support the cost-effective achievement of the targets set out by the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.
Optimizing and Enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System
The overarching objective of AtlantOS is to achieve a transition from a loosely-coordinated set of existing ocean observing activities to a sustainable, efficient, and fit-for-purpose Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS), by defining requirements and systems design, improving the readiness of observing networks and data systems, and engaging stakeholders around the Atlantic; and leaving a legacy and strengthened contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
AtlantOS will fill existing in-situ observing system gaps and will ensure that data are readily accessible and useable. AtlantOS will demonstrate the utility of integrating in-situ and Earth observing satellite based observations towards informing a wide range of sectors using the Copernicus Marine Monitoring Services and the European Marine Observation and Data Network and connect them with similar activities around the Atlantic. AtlantOS will support activities to share, integrate and standardize in-situ observations, reduce the cost by network optimization and deployment of new technologies, and increase the competitiveness of European industries, and particularly of the small and medium enterprises of the marine sector. AtlantOS will promote innovation, documentation and exploitation of innovative observing systems.
All AtlantOS work packages will strengthen the trans-Atlantic collaboration, through close interaction with partner institutions from Canada, United States, and the South Atlantic region. AtlantOS will develop a results-oriented dialogue with key stakeholders communities to enable a meaningful exchange between the products and services that IAOOS can deliver and the demands and needs of the stakeholder communities. Finally, AtlantOS will establish a structured dialogue with funding bodies, including the European Commission, USA, Canada and other countries to ensure sustainability and adequate growth of IAOOS.
Buildings as Material Banks: Integrating Materials Passports with Reversible Building Design to Optimise Circular Industrial Value Chains
The aims of BAMB (Buildings as Material Banks) are the prevention of construction and demolition waste, the reduction of virgin resource consumption and the development towards a circular economy through industrial symbiosis, addressing the challenges mentioned in the Work Programme on Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials. The focus of the project is on building construction and process industries (from architects to raw material suppliers).
The BAMB-project implements the principles of the waste hierarchy: the prevention of waste, its reuse and recycling. Key is to improve the value of materials used in buildings for recovery. This is achieved by developing and integrating two complementary value adding frameworks, (1) materials passports and (2) reversible building design. These frameworks will be able to change conventional (cradle-to-grave) building design, so that buildings can be transformed to new functions (extending their life span) or disassembled to building components or material feedstock that can be upcycled in new constructions (using materials passports). This way, continuous loops of materials are created while large amounts of waste will be prevented.
Activities from research to market introduction are planned. Fundamental knowledge gaps should be bridged in order to introduce both frameworks on the market. Advanced ICT tools and management models will enable market uptake and the organization of circular value chains in building and process industries. New business models for (circular) value chains will be developed and tested on selected materials. The inclusion of strategic partners along the value chains in an industrial board will maximize market replicability potential, while several (mostly privately funded) building pilots will demonstrate the potential of the new techniques. Awareness will be raised to facilitate the transition towards circularity by policy reform and changing consumer behavior.
New Mining Concept for Extracting Metals from Deep Ore Deposits using Biotechnology
BioMOre describes a “New Mining Concept for Extracting Metals from Deep Ore Deposits using Biotechnology”. The concept is to use hydrofracturing for stimulation and bioleaching for winning of ores.
The final process will consist of a so-called doublet, which is two deviated and parallel wells.
In order to avoid high costs for drilling from the surface, the BioMOre approach is divided into two phases. Phase 1 will be research on the intended bioleaching process whereas phase 2 will aim at a pilot installation to demonstrate the applicability of the process in large scale including hydro-fracturing and access of the deposit from surface.
The first phase should cover the intended work of the current BioMOre approach without drilling from surface.
The BioMOre project aims at extracting metals from deep mineralized zones in Europe (Poland-Germany, Kupferschiefer deposit as a test case) by coupling solution mining and bioleaching. Selected sustainability indicators based on regulatory requirements of the European Commission will be applied for feasibility considerations.
The main objective of the BioMOre first phase is to design and build an underground test facility for testing the concept of combined hydro-fracturing and bioleaching. The test facility will comprise a 100 m² ore block, where boreholes will be drilled horizontally using standard equipment. All necessary equipment for testing different parameters of the intended bioleaching process will be established underground.
The intention is to test the bioleaching process in high detail in an in-situ environment at the same time avoiding time consuming and risky permission procedures. On the other hand, the application for the permission of underground test operation must contain detailed information about monitoring of tests and all material controls. No harmful substances will remain in the mine after the tests are completed. Further to that, predictive numerical modelling of a pilot installation should be done.
Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers
Rivers rank among some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, and are the focus of costly restoration programmes that cost billions to taxpayers. Much of Europe depends on water from rivers for drinking, food production, and the generation of hydropower, which is essential for meeting the EU renewable energy target.
Yet only half the EU surface waters have met the WFD’s 2015 target of good ecological status, due in part to the fragmentation of habitats caused by tens of thousands of dams and weirs which also pose a flood hazard. Some barriers are old and out of use, but may have historical value, while the life span of others will soon come to an end and may need to be removed. But barriers also provide energy, water, fishing and leisure opportunities, and may also help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Improving stream connectivity has been flagged as one of the priorities for more efficient stream restoration but effective rehabilitation of ecosystem functioning in European rivers needs to take the complexity and trade-offs imposed by barriers into account.
AMBER will deliver innovative solutions to river fragmentation in Europe by developing more efficient methods of restoring stream connectivity through adaptive barrier management. The project seeks to address the complex challenge of river fragmentation through a comprehensive barrier adaptive management process, based on the integration of programme design, management, and monitoring to systematically test assumptions about barrier mitigation, adapt and learn.
Demonstrating synergies in combined natural and engineered processes for water treatment systems
The AquaNES project will catalyse innovations in water and wastewater treatment processes and management through improved combinations of natural and engineered components.
Among the demonstrated solutions are natural treatment processes such as bank filtration (BF), managed aquifer recharge (MAR) and constructed wetlands (CW) plus engineered pre- and post-treatment options.
The project focuses on 13 demonstration sites in Europe, India and Israel covering a repre-sentative range of regional, climatic, and hydrogeological conditions in which different combined natural-engineered treatment systems (cNES) will be demonstrated through active collaboration of knowledge and technology providers, water utilities and end-users. Our specific objectives are
- to demonstrate the benefits of post-treatment options such as membranes, activated carbon and ozonation after bank filtration for the production of safe drinking water
- to validate the treatment and storage capacity of soil-aquifer systems in combination with oxidative pre-treatments
- to demonstrate the combination of constructed wetlands with different technical post- or pre-treatment options (ozone or bioreactor systems) as a wastewater treatment option
- to evidence reductions in operating costs and energy consumption
- to test a robust risk assessment framework for cNES
- to deliver design guidance for cNES informed by industrial or near-industrial scale expe-riences
- to identify and profile new market opportunities in Europe and overseas for cNES
The AquaNES project will demonstrate combined natural-engineered treatment systems as sus-tainable adaptations to issues such as water scarcity, excess water in cities and micro-pollutants in the water cycle. It will thus have impact across the EIP Water’s thematic priorities and cross-cutting issues, particularly on ‘Water reuse & recycling’, ‘Water and wastewater treatment’, ‘Water-energy nexus’, ‘Ecosystem services’, ‘Water governance’, and ‘DSS & monitoring’.
A Trans-AtLantic Assessment and deep-water ecosystem-based Spatial management plan for Europe
ATLAS creates a dynamic new partnership between multinational industries, SMEs, governments and academia to assess the Atlantic’s deep-sea ecosystems and Marine Genetic Resources to create the integrated and adaptive planning products needed for sustainable Blue Growth.
ATLAS will gather diverse new information on sensitive Atlantic ecosystems (incl. VMEs and EBSAs) to produce a step-change in our understanding of their connectivity, functioning and responses to future changes in human use and ocean climate. This is possible because ATLAS takes innovative approaches to its work and interweaves its objectives by placing business, policy and socioeconomic development at the forefront with science. ATLAS not only uses trans-Atlantic oceanographic arrays to understand and predict future change in living marine resources, but enhances their capacity with new sensors to make measurements directly relevant to ecosystem function.
The ATLAS team has the track record needed to meet the project’s ambitions and has already developed a programme of 25 deep-sea cruises, with more pending final decision. These cruises will study a network of 12 Case Studies spanning the Atlantic including sponge, cold-water coral, seamount and mid-ocean ridge ecosystems. The team has an unprecedented track record in policy development at national, European and international levels. An annual ATLAS Science-Policy Panel in Brussels will take the latest results and Blue Growth opportunities identified from the project directly to policy makers. Finally, ATLAS has a strong trans-Atlantic partnership in Canada and the USA where both government and academic partners will interact closely with ATLAS through shared cruises, staff secondments, scientific collaboration and work to inform Atlantic policy development. ATLAS has been created and designed with our N American partners to foster trans-Atlantic collaboration and the wider objectives of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation.
Bringing INnovation to onGOing water management – A better future under climate change
The water sector needs improved climate prediction and downscaling based on consistent grounds (IPCC 5th Assessment Report, 2013). There is also a need for near future weather scenarios and anticipation of their impacts in the water cycle together with risk management strategies.
BINGO will provide demand-driven solutions for a number of specific climate-related challenges in particular for highly vulnerable water resources of strategic importance. Water managers and other stakeholders will then be provided with information on specific climate scenarios at the space/time resolution fitting their needs, enabling them to act at various geographical levels (local, regional and European). BINGO aims at reducing the uncertainty of climate predictions and developing response strategies to help society manage that uncertainty. An innovative approach consists of enrolling end-users from the start, identifying specific vulnerabilities, needs and concerns about future climate. BINGO is built around 7 research sites in Northern and Southern Europe, covering a representative range of climatic conditions as well as combinations of water systems and water pressures. They illustrate a variety of water cycles at local/regional scales in Europe over various timescales, as well as common problems, including floods and droughts; water quality pressured by CSO, agriculture and competing demands for water (urban/tourism; agriculture/food security; hydropower). To guarantee sound management strategies for future weather challenges, BINGO will develop and validate all solutions built by strong dynamic interaction of researchers with end-users and decision makers throughout the project. By creating such knowledge alliances, water managers and other stakeholders can share awareness of climate challenges, thus increasing the possibilities of collaboration in order to manage and better cope with future climate challenges.
Breakthrough Solutions for the Sustainable Harvesting and Processing of Deep Sea Polymetallic Nodules
A key EU policy aims to reduce the Union dependency on raw materials imports, in particular (candidate) Critical Raw Materials that are vital for the EU innovative technologies.
Topic SC5-11c-2015 scope focuses on “developing new highly-automated technological sustainable solutions for deep mining in the sea bed combined with in-situ processing of minerals”. An existing but challenging raw material resource concerns polymetallic nodules. These round to elongated concretions of 1–15 cm diameter form on sediment-covered deep-sea plains in all oceans between 4-6000m water depth. The challenge to harvest and transport the nodules to the EU shore is taken on by Blue Nodules.
The governing project principle is: industrial viability within the context of a realistic and technical, economic and environmentally balanced business case for the complete Polymetallic Nodules value chain of mining, processing and valorisation. Blue Nodules will develop and test to TRL6 maturity a new highly-automated and technologically sustainable deep sea mining system. Key features are: an annual production capability of 2 Million Tons nodules in water depths up to 6000m, in-situ processing of the nodules and intrinsic safe working conditions. Technical WPs are dedicated to subsea harvesting equipment & control technology, in-situ seafloor processing of polymetallic nodules and sea surface, land operations & processes. A dedicated WP focuses on environmental issues and on an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). A WP setting requirements and assessing the developed technology controls the entire work plan structure. High credibility is obtained by linking the project work to a nodule field license owned by a project partner and located in the most promising known nodule deposit: the Clarion Clipperton Zone. The project consortium contains 14 leading industry and research partners from 9 EU member states. The project duration is 48 months, the required funding amounts to 8 Million.