Invasive Alien Species Observatory and Network
Development for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts
in Black Sea Deltaic Protected Areas
Project Code: BSB-1121
Info-Days Meeting Report
Deliverable D.C.3.1 Info-days
PP6 – International Business and Economic Development Center (Georgia)
Output number: D.C.3.1 Date:04.2020
Author: David Tsiskaridze (PP6, IBEDC), Guranda Makharadze (PP6, IBEDC) contributions from all project partners as listed below
Project: IASON - Invasive Alien Species Observatory and Network Development for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts in Black Sea Deltaic Protected Areas
Programme: BSB Project Number: 1121
Start date: 07.2020 End date: 12.2022
Lead Partner: P1 - Danube Delta National Institute for Research and Development (DDNI)
Project Partner: P2 - Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority (DDBRA),
P3 - Institute of Marine Biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IMB),
P4 - International Hellenic University (IHU),
P5 - Karadeniz Technical University (KTU-MSF),
P6 - International Business and Economic Development Center (IBEDC)
Invasive alien species are now recognized as one of the greatest biological threats to our planet’s ecological and economic well-being. A plant or animal transported beyond the ecosystem where it occurs naturally may multiply out of control, endangering native species in the invaded ecosystem, undermining agriculture, threatening public health, or creating other unwanted and often irreversible disruptions. Every nation on earth is already grappling with complex and costly invasive species problems. Numerous international instruments, binding and non-binding, have been developed to deal with at least certain aspects of the problem of IAS. The most comprehensive is the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which calls on its parties numbering 178 governments in 2000 to "prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats, or species" (Article 8h). A much older instrument is the 1952 International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), which applies primarily to plant pests, based on a system of phytosanitary certificates; regional agreements further strengthen the IPPC. Other instruments deal with IAS in specific regions (such as Antarctica), sectors (such as fishing in the Danube), or vectors (such as IAS in ballast water, through the International Maritime Organization). Over 40 such instruments or programmes are already in force, and several more are awaiting finalization and ratification. Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, the pet trade, the horticultural industry, and many industrial consumers of raw materials today depend on species that came originally from other parts of the world. Indeed, the lives of people everywhere have been greatly enriched by being able to gain access to a greater share of the world's biological diversity. A key point is that some established alien species may both enhance and detract from native biodiversity. Alien species may be beneficial in one part of an ecosystem or geographic region, but detrimental in another part or region. One major challenge is to identify when human influence on ecosystems is bringing about changes that are inimical to ecosystems, biodiversity, economics or other aspects of human welfare (https://www.cbd.int/doc/principles/ais-strategy-gisp.pdf).
This Activity refers to the External Communication and Public Events. The efficacy of any strategy to address IAS strictly depends on the available information, and on the sharing of data, knowledge and experience. On the other hand, it is a fact that awareness and understanding about the problem of IAS and the need for their monitoring and control varies greatly between the target groups of stakeholders, policy makes, scientists and the general public, both between the different countries and in the same country as well. In activity A.C.3, which involves External Communication and Public Events, there is an effort to raise awareness about the presence of IAS and their role in an area through the involvement of the public in activities related to their monitoring. Using Info-days and citizen science actions it is expected to significantly improve efficacy of surveillance and monitoring of IAS. The essential thing is that citizens start using it. Citizen science is considered a research approach like any other, with limitations and biases that should be considered and controlled for. However unlike traditional research approaches, citizen science provides opportunity for greater public engagement and democratization of science. One of the objectives of IASON project is to promote citizen science and to encourage nonprofessional scientists to participate to IAS monitoring. As European Citizen Science association points citizen science projects actively involve citizens in scientific endeavor that generates new knowledge or understanding, providing a genuine science outcome at the same time. Thus, the core of this activity is the creation of a citizen science application for the monitoring of IAS. The operation of the Living Lab, in combination with the operation of the Observatory (AT1.10) is expected to reinforce the role of the users, either citizens or scientists, in the monitoring processes of the appearance and impact of IAS, to bridge the gap between the scientific community with the general public, emphasizing to stakeholders that make and promote policies, to help young scientists and researchers to profound their knowledge, providing them at the same time the medium to share their ideas. The info-days will take place during the first year of the IASON project. These events will aim to communicate the concept and the objectives of IASON project, to local communities, and to promote and persuade local stakeholders and policy makers and the general public as well about the need of actions to monitor and control the IAS. The info-days have been organized by each partner for its territory.. The idea was to organize all the info-days simultaneously, in every different country, choosing a symbolic day – i.e. the World Environment Day. During the event, apart from presentations, informational material were distributed to the participants.
Accroding to the planned schedule, activity A.C.3 being included in the framework of the Invasive Alien Species Observatory and Network Development for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts in Black Sea Deltaic Protected Areas – IASON project, was carried out through the Zoom Platform Meeting with relevant authorities and stakeholders. Partners discussed all existing and future scenarios regarding the IAS impacts within their countries facilitating the Climate Changes Impacts envisioned in the future. Diverse field of scientific approaches were presented to attendees having valuable feedback and knowledge of IAS.
Similar to Ukrainian’s Info Day, Romania PP1 organized the zoom meeting in April 8, 2021. The meeting focus was to inform local communities and stakeholders from Dobruja region about the initiatives, goals of the project, the emerged perspectives regarding the ecological and socio-economic impact of IAS, and the overview of the Observatory. A total number of 40 attendees were registered in the event. A special attention was given to the selected IAS (Invasive Alien Species), their negative impact (from ecological and socio-economical point of view) for Danube Delta Ecosystems and the Observatory role in a better management for the IAS in the study areas. The meeting started with a welcoming speech by Dr. Gabriel LUPU, project leaded, senior researcher in biology within Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources department from Danube Delta National Institute, and presented the previous experience and future goals regarding the invasive alien species from Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. In the second part of the meeting Mrs. Gabriela MOROZON from PP1: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority took the floor and introduced the multiple stressor which affects the Danube Delta Ecosystems, especially the invasive alien species in an accelerated climate change context and DDBRA role in the IASON Project. The last section of the meeting was represented by a QA session with a free dialog with the attendant. Before finishing the meeting various questions and discussions were held within the attendees being keen to elaborate joint approach for solving the problems
On 8th of April Info Day’s meeting was held with Partner 3, IMB NAS of Ukraine in Odessa. The Info-day was attended by more than 100 representatives of stakeholders from various institutions and organizations of Ukraine (representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine, research institutions of the Department of General Biology of NAS of Ukraine (Institute of hydrobiology, Institute of zoology, Institute of botany), Department of Ecology and Natural Resources of Odessa Regional State Administration, teachers, graduate students and students of higher educational institutions on biological, ecological and agricultural orientation of the Odessa and of the Melitopol, biology teachers of Odessas school, representatives of business structures, Environment NGOs ). The project manager from the IMB NAS of Ukraine Yuriy Kvach made a report presenting the project team, purpose, tasks and progress of the project by the Ukrainian side. Presentations of the leading specialists of the IMB NAS of Ukraine, being involved in the project, were floored. Discussion about the terrestrial and water objects that were selected for research was set out. Object of discussion was the features of alien species distributed around the Danube Delta and their potential threat on the study region. The results that are planned to be obtained upon completion of the project were taken into consideration Outcome of the Info Day was an optimistic approach to the project tasks to be successfully implemented and facilitating improvement of the role of Ukrainian science in the international space and integrating Ukraine into the European Union in terms of fulfillment of environmental standards.
The Info day took place on 9th of April, 2021. It was organized in the frame of W.P. AC.3 (External Communication and Public Events) with the purpose to communicate with local stakeholders, bodies, scientists and the general public about the initiatives and the goals of the project and the emerged perspectives regarding the ecological and socio-economic impact of IAS, especially on the forthcoming climate change. Moreover, this process hopefully will trigger the cooperation between all parties involved so that the new knowledge gained during the project will be further passed and facilitate the IAS control and management. The meeting started with a welcoming speech by Dr. Th. Merou, coordinator of the IHU. After the end of the welcoming, Dr. Th. Merou, coordinator of IHU, begun the first presentation relevant to the aims and goals of the IASON project in the area of Nestos Delta. Thematic Deputy Regional Head of Agricultural Economy and Veterinary Medicineof East Macedonia and Thrace. Mr. G. Zimpidis was welcomed, pointing out the interest of the political leadership in the issue and the willingness to cooperate. President of the Geotechnical Chamber of Greece, underlined the human activities, facilitating introduction of more species of plants and animals into the new parts of the world that have negative effects on biodiversity and even on human well-being. He expressed the interest of the Geotechnical Chamber and the willingness to cooperate. Analyze on multifaceted character of the project area – deltaic ecosystems of different bio-geographical zones, different protection status and management was developed. Reasons for selecting the deltaic ecosystems as research sites and specific objectives of the project and the main expected results were presented. Dr. Tsiftsis Spyros, from the Department of Forest and Natural Environment Sciences of the International Hellenic University explained every step of the methodology for Species Distribution Modeling and Methodology of Implementation. Several issues for the project goals and implementation were open to discussion and were answered by the three speakers.
Meeting was organized in April 18, 2021 attended with the diverse participants from research institutions, universities, representatives from designated authorities, local administrative bodies, fish farmers, fishers and NGO’s. Meeting was moderated by Dr. Ertug DUZGUNES. After welcoming speech paid by project leader Dr. Coskun ERUZ, Dr. Fatma TELLİ KARAKOÇ gave a brief information about the project; partners, scope, targets, work packages and time frame concerning project activities. After all these introductions, main part of the program was started. In line with the project scope, general information was given on climate change and its impacts; indications as quantitative increases in rain fall, temperature increases and rise of sea level rise; possible mid and long term effects on fishing and aquaculture sub sectors. Kızılırmak Deltaic Area has very diverse habitats and landscape characteristics. Geographical, topographical and protection state (UNESCO, RAMSAR) was mentioned by Dr. Ali AYAN, from the University, Samsun, having a rich experience in several projects carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization (MoEU). Dr. Mustafa GÜLER, authorized by MoEU, working for Samsun Metropolitan City Municipality introduced brief explanations about the activities carried out in the Delta, existing problems and visiting procedures. Another researcher Dr. Şerife Gülsün KIRANKAYA , gave information about the economic effects of IAS in the Delta by giving comparative figures from the fishing activities in the IASON project area (ie. earning from İsraeli carp versus common carp, Red carp versus endemic species). Ecological impacts of IAS were given in Deltaic area with special attention to river discharge location. Existence of fish, crustacea and bivalvia species, and first records for new invasive species were informed by Dr. Mehmet AYDIN from Ordu University. Other participants, Dr. Mahir KANYILMAZ, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, DG Fisheries and Aquaculture; Dr. S.G. KIRANKAYA; Dr. Mustafa GULER kindly gave an overall information about these two projects carried out in wetlands and deltas in other regions. Final presentation was given by Dr. Nazmi POLAT from 19 May’s University. He carried out several projects on the aquatic fauna of the Deltaic lakes and he talked about the impacts of IAS on the native stocks regarding fishing activities. At the end the questions and answers session was held remarked all the gaps and analyses being existed up to now.
Partner 6, IBEDC from Georgia, organized and held the Info-day on April 23, 2021 (Tbilisi, Georgia). Objective of the meeting was to present info on the project implementation to the stakeholders and beneficiaries. The Info-day aimed at informing local communities and stakeholders about the initiatives and goals of the project, prospects for environmental and socio-economic impact of IAS and the functions of the Observatory. Also the contribution on sharing the experience was the main massage for the meeting attendants. The Info-day was attended by up to 30 representatives of stakeholders from various institutions and organizations of Georgia. Various spectrums of invited persons were introduced: Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (Biodiversity and Forestry Department), Agency of Protected Areas, National Environmental Agency (Department of Fishery, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity), Environmental NGO’s, Universities, General Public lived in the target region etc. Introductory speech was presented by the Project Coordinator of International Business and Economic Development Center, David Tsiskaridze. He overwied the project schedule, its partners, target regions, project objectives, project activities and main deliverables to be resulted. He emphasized importance of adoption of the law on Biodiversity in time in terms of requirements of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.
David Bujiashvili-Head of EU Assistance and Sectorial Coordination Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia – underlined the importance of the project in terms of direct connection to the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, drafting the Law on Biodiversity to be harmonized with EU standards and their priorities.
Nona Khelaia- Head of the Biodiversity Directorate of the Biodiversity and Forestry Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia – expressed her appreciation regarding the project necessity in dealing with invasive species causing the danger on the local environment and global changes as well. Based on the Convention of Biodiversity,
Nata Sultanishvili – Head of Planning and Developing Department of the Agency of Protected Areas – highlighted significance of unique species distributed in Georgia and advantage of the project in protecting the local ecosystem. Totally, there are 93 protected areas in Georgia with different status: State Nature Reserves, National Parks, Natural Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Protected Landscapes. Whole area of Protected Areas is 793 000ha sharing 11.5% of the entire country land.
Marina Mgeladze - Acting Head of the Department of Fishery, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity of National Environmental Agency – confirmed the project’s contribution into the invasive species identification and monitoring implementation. The main input of the project would be the raise awareness on invasive species being low to some extent within the local communities. She pointed out the negative impact of Mnemiopsis Leidyi on the Black Sea ecosystem and its results.
Detailed presentation on implemented, ongoing and envisaged activities within the project was floored by the junior expert of the project Guranda Makharadze. She summarized content of project activities, results and future expectations. The first action was undertaken in October-November, 2020 related to the literature review around the listed invasive species of the project. Publications about negative impacts of invasive species on forestry, meadow, mires, and inland waters’ and Black Sea ecosystems were reviewed. Also harmful effect on human activities was assessed during the speech. Expert went through several national and international regulations. The second stage of the project implementation was Climate Change Overview (December, 2020) pointing out the long-term scenario of dramatic conditions envisaged in the future. Presentation was followed by the Assessment of Invasive Species and Preparing the Report developed in February 2021. In March experts kept working on General Protocol of Invasive Species and Expected Risks Assessment being consulted with competent persons. In fact, five IAS were selected for the protocol evaluation: two plants and three animals.
Being as responsilbel body for A.T1.2-Collection and Management of Information on IAS from Stakeholder, within this deliverable IBEDC developed Methodology of Stakeholders Survey, Methodology of Stakeholders Identification and three types of questionnaires for 1) Professional-National/Regional Authorities, Research and Education Institutions, Environmental NGO's; 2) Local Public Authorities, NGO's(General) and representatives of Business Milieu and 3) General Public (for the general public-population in the areas in order to measure the impact on local communities in target areas of the study). Questionnaire was set out and disseminated amongst stakeholders during April, 2021.
Zurab Manvelidze – Botanist introduced the historical estimation of invasive species, their impact and nature of surveys developed in Batumi Botanical Garden. He mentioned that invasive species assessments had already been implementing within the protected areas of Ajara including Kolkheti National Park being a part of Kolkheti Lowland. As for Chorokhi Delta, during Soviet Periods Military Polygon was arranged on the area and any of scientific surveys were prohibited. Nevertheless that the area is very important for flora and fauna biodiversity point of view, still there are some unkind ongoing processes related to the overloaded traffic of heavy machines and obtaining the inert materials off the river bed. Consequently, starting the surveys of invasive species would profit development of relevant database and set out mitigation measures. Common methodologies of surveys would contribute to enhance trans boundary interaction and maintain joint approach.
Irakli Mikeladze – Scientist of Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University – presented the routes of distribution of invasive plant species alongside the Black Sea and their negative influence on the local environment.
Manana Chikovani – Consultant of the Kolkheti National Park – overviewed the most disseminated plant invasive species within the protected area, historical outline of their distribution and harmful impact. Monitoring results on coverage areas of invasive species gotten in 2019 in comparison with previous years (data 2017) has been increased. Apart of some dramatic conditions, kind of envisioned projects are planned contributing various mitigation measures to be implemented.
Ramaz Mikeladze – Ichtiologist, Department of Fishery, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity – floored the fish invasive species within the Kolkheti lowland inland waters and river tributaries. Owing the climate changes (increasing the water temperature) some deviations have been noticed in water ecosystems. More specifically it’s obvious in terms of salinity of estuaries due to artificial establishment of hydrological regime caused by hydropower plants (river water inundation). This would definitely reflect on local living resources of water ecosystem and assist to attract invasive species fitted to the new environment. He underlined serious adverse impacts of fish invasiveness on indigenous species.
Izolda Machutazde – Scientist, Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University – Introduced the presentation on the Invasive alien plant species of Kolkheti Lowland. Being a region of global importance for biodiversity conservation due to distribution of unique mires and relict forests, it is considered as a center of biodiversity on the transition of Europe and Asia. Process of invasiveness started in 19th century when German, English, French and Belgian ships entered the Batumi Sea Port. Most of the invasive plant species are growing in drained areas being under the highest impact of human activities. Scientist relied on inventory (number and relative frequency) and mapping of invasive plant species and deciding the most dangerous species to be certain.
Emzar Gordadze – Professor of Kutaisi Akaki Tsereteli State University – highlighted the project’s consequence in aiming the biodiversity conservation. He floored the presentation on invasive fauna species (including insect) causing irreversible damaging influence on both of environment and socio-economic aspects. They deteriorated agricultural farmlands of fruits and vegetables such as hazelnuts, grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, corn etc.
Finally, questions were raised amongst audience regarding: the selection of invasive species, wording and meaning of the invasiveness, list of the most harmful invasive species, updating status of invasive species, mitigation measures and recommendations, climate changes directly connected to Covid19 and others. Particular discussion was opened up on joint approach to the selection of invasive species and monitoring methods. Experts shared their experiences and feedback to each other and accorded for the upcoming cooperation.
The present report reflected the Info Day’s results carried out in April 2021 by the partners under the Deliverable D.C.3.1. The info-days (one per participating country) were aimed to inform local communities and stakeholders about the initiatives and the goals of the project, the emerged perspectives regarding the ecological and socio-economic impact of IAS, and the function of the Observatory. After completion of the info days, a report has been prepared from every partner. It was expected that at least 200 people would participate at the info-days, while at least 1.000 pieces of information material would be distributed.
Resuming the Info Day’s outcomes, all the partners’ emphesized on the importance of rasing the awareness on IAS and their negative impacts within the communities. More or less the scientific groups, authorized bodies are familiar to the object but the main reason IAS being obscured is lack of information. Discussions between competent stakeholders were related to the new commers and their impacts on Climate Change. Interesting scenarios around future conditions were introduced and taken into consideration.
At the final stage of event in Georgia, questions were raised amongst stakeholders regarding: the selection of invasive species, wording and meaning of the invasiveness, list of the most harmful invasive species, updating status of invasive species, mitigation measures and recommendations, climate changes directly connected to Covid19 and others. Particular discussion was opened up on joint approach to the selection of invasive species and monitoring methods. Experts shared their experiences and feedback to each other and accorded for the upcoming cooperation.
Finally, almost all partners have become to the common conclusion: of joint effort for avoiding the spread of IAS beoynd their natural exosystems. This should be a main target and object for the future cross border cooperation.