Empowering European communities to improve natural resource management for human well-being: the OPPLA web portal & communities of practice

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:44 AM
Marc Metzger1, Claire Brown2, Marta Pérez-Soba3, Mark Rounsevell1, Peter Verweij3, Ben Delbaere4, George Cojocaru5, Heli Saarikoski6, Paula Harrison7 and Katharina Zellmer8, (1)University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, (2)UNEP WCMC, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (3)Alterra, Wageningen, Netherlands, (4)European Centre for Nature Conservation, Tilburg, Netherlands, (5)TIAMASG Foundation, Bucharest, Romania, (6)SYKE, Helsinki, Finland, (7)University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, (8)Prospex, Brussels, Belgium
The ecosystem services concept is seen by many as a useful paradigm to support decision-making at the complex interface between science, policy and practice. However, to be successful, it requires a strong willingness for collaboration and joint understanding. In support of this aspiration, OPPLA is being developed as a web portal to enable European communities to better manage ecosystems for human well-being and livelihoods. OPPLA will provide access to a variety of online resources such as tools, case studies, lessons learned, videos, manuals and training and educational materials. It will also provide expert forums and spaces for discussions between researchers, practitioners and decision makers. Hence a critical aspect of the success of OPPLA is the co-evolution of communities of practice.

An example of a community of practice is the recently launched Ecosystem Services Community – Scotland (ESCom-Scotland; escomscotland.wordpress.com). ESCom-Scotland aims to support better management of Scotland’s natural resources by helping to establish a community of practice between individuals and groups involved in the science, policy and practice behind sustainable ecosystem management. It aspires to encourage the sharing of ideas, increase collaboration and to initiate a support network for those engaging with the ecosystem services concept and it will use the OPPLA resources to support these activities.

OPPLA is currently at the developmental stage and was instigated by two large European Commission funded research projects: OPERAs (www.operas-project.eu) and OpenNESS (www.openness-project.eu), with a combined budget of ca. €24m. These projects aim to improve understanding of how ecosystem services contribute to human well-being in different social-ecological systems. Research will establish whether, how and under what conditions the ecosystem services concept can move beyond the academic domain towards practical implementation in support of sustainable ecosystem management. New insights, and improved or novel tools and instruments, will be tested in practice in case studies that cover a range of socio-ecological systems across locales, sectors, scales and time. This presentation will discuss the development of OPPLA and the communities of practice that are emerging around it.