Consortium members of the Safeguard project met up between 6 and 10 March 2023 for the project’s second Annual General Meeting. The four-day-long event, hosted by the partner institution Pensoft Publishers, was marked by insightful presentations, vivid discussions and an overview of the project’s developments and future initiatives. The format in mind was a hybrid conference environment, with people coming to Sofia, Bulgaria for the physical meeting and the remaining participants attending online.
The progress, challenges and future plans of all Safeguard work packages have been presented and discussed during the event. Starting of with a warm welcome and an outline of the agenda by local host Teodor Metodiev of Pensoft and an overview of current Safeguard activities by project coordinator Prof. Dr. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter of University of Würzburg (UWUE), the first day of the meeting delivered important results and progress developments, as well as timelines for future plans. Some of the highlights of the day focused on:
Biodiversity of Bulgaria: Prof. Pavel Stoev of Pensoft Publishers and NMNH presented the characteristics, protection and trends of Bulgaria’s flora and fauna.
The status and trends of European pollinators: We looked into work package 1’s progress on compiling the most comprehensive open database of EU wild pollinator distribution, interactions, traits and phylogeny.
Pressures on wild pollinators and their biotic interactions: Work package 3 presented their update on the model and pan-European maps, analysing the relative and potentially interacting effects of multiple anthropogenic pressures on a broad range of pollinators and their functions at the levels of species, communities, plant-pollinator networks and plant reproduction.
Assessing the environmental, socio-cultural and economic values of pollinators: Work package 3 conducted multidisciplinary studies and synthesis of existing knowledge and approaches to valuing pollinating services and identification of dataset availability.
Effective responses to counteract wild pollinator decline: A variety of interesting studies and their data collection processes were presented, focusing on the topics of new intervention strategies for pollinator conservation.
Integrative Assessment Framework (IAF): The development process of Safeguard’s IAF, providing decision-makers with a one-stop systems-based framework, was presented.
Pollinator-relevant policy and decision making: Closely linked to the development of the IAF, work package 6 presented the draft tools and approaches with policy makers.
Knowledge Exchange and Impact Strategy: The key question of how we can bring the quality outputs resulting from Safeguard to their end users has been discussed. Pensoft and the University of Reading have the task of using the 'research engine' (publications, tools, reports, protocols) and moving it towards a real impact - changes in policy, decision-making, knowledge and behaviour.
On day two of the Safeguard AGM 2023, all partners' most recent activities were covered in detail, along with their progress and future goals. The overview of the tasks was followed by a Data Management workshop, organised by Jie Zhang of UWUE. The first part of the workshop was focused on the FAIR data principles and the parameters that have to be followed for a successful data upload. Participants learned how to make datasets machine-readable and create meta data. Part two encouraged them to upload their data on the spot.\
On the third day of the AGM, the consortium members had the opportunity to join an excursion to Plovdiv.
The fourth and final day of the AGM acquired a more interactive structure in the form of two workshops. This structure allowed for group discussions, but also for informal one to one conversations, which are a key aspect of any meeting. The first workshop, led by Prof. René Van Der Wal of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and titled ‘Safeguarding CO2 emissions: feelings, responsibilities, concerns’ encouraged partners to take time and reflect on this increasingly important societal dimension. The second one was focused on the paper/data synthesis.
After a successful Annual General Meeting, Safeguard partners continue pursuing the mission to support sustainable pollination across Europe and reversing the losses of wild pollinators!
Photo: Safeguard partners at the AGM 2 in Sofia