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Forests, Fire and Biodiversity
Start date: Jan 1, 2015, End date: Sep 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project takes place in the Algarve, the south most region of Portugal. Under the current context of climate change, which is above all characterized by extreme weather phenomenon, droughts are becoming more frequent and longer which, associated with heat waves, increases the chances of large wild fires with enormous destruction of forest and biodiversity. But the effects of forest fires are not limited to that single year. It’s not know yet how long it takes for the environmental web of relations, here represented by the plant-pollinator relationship, to be fully recovered. This has immediate consequences at the forest level, but also at the agriculture level (less pollinators less agriculture production) and at the level of honey producers. The EVS volunteers, all unemployed undergraduates, will come to help in studying these effects and to understand the side effects for foresters, farmers and honey producers. This project has the following objectives: (1) Help young European researchers in developing scientific research work, from the planning, through implementation and to evaluation and publication; (2) Help young European citizens in understanding their role within the European Union and to work in partnership with others to safeguard the European environment, through the use of European Environmental legislation; (3) Interaction with local stakeholders (foresters, farmers and honey producers) in order to collect information on the effects of wildfires both in space and time; (4) contribute to increase the citizen knowledge on the consequences of fires and what measures can be taken to reduce their incidence. This project is a partnership of two sending organizations (from different countries) with one receiving organization, involving three volunteers. The activities will involve from planning ones, to field work in science, to conversation with involved stakeholders to collect information and environmental education with school children and other visitors to the Open Day at the receiving organization Field Study Centre. The methodology will be mostly informal learning, putting in practice what the volunteers have learned at the university and gaining experience for a future career in research or any other environmental field. The educational side of the project might require some extra help to get the volunteers to learn some communication techniques, but nothing too difficult. As expected results we hope that the volunteers will learn how to plan a research and communication project from the planning stage to the implementation, evaluate and report. All this done with a good team work in international partnership. We hope that the volunteers will develop identifying skills of Mediterranean species, both in plants, insects and birds. We also expect to convey the conservation message across to many school classes and other visiting groups and with that to generate a longer impact in time. Also that with the volunteers help, the receiving organization will manage to engage with three different types of stakeholders (foresters, farmers and honey producers) and organize meetings which will open doors for future collaboration with them and prolong in time a positive view of environmental conservation, both for biodiversity and for business as well. The long term benefits are: • For the volunteers is on gaining experience for their future research career and their CV development. They will also develop an awareness of their citizen role within the European Union to work in partnership with people from other countries and cultures to protect and improve Europe’s environment. • The receiving organization will ensure that its environmental education program reaches out to many school children and other visitors, both during the project time, but later is time through educational materials which will remain with our organization. • The sending organizations will gain from international cooperation between all the organizations and achieving their organizational objectives within international cooperation and volunteer development; • The local stakeholders will share their experiences with scientists and will develop collaboration links with research Centres.
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