Waterfowl Dataset on LifeWatch Italy portal

Waterfowl dataset

This news item was originally published on LifeWatch Italy.

A dataset on waterfowl has been published on the LifeWatch Italy portal.

Populations of herons and egrets in north-western Italy increased considerably from 1972 to 2000, but then the positive trend started reversing – this change was detected thanks to a 50-year monitoring programme on the nesting populations of 12 species of colonial aquatic birds (Families Ardeidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Plataleidae, Threskiornithidae). The study represents the longest census programme ever carried out in Italy, and one of the most extensive in Europe, comprising an area of 58,000 km2.

The researchers from University of Pavia, CNR-IRSA and collaborators who participated in the monitoring programme believe that the decline in the breeding population is due to changes in rice cultivation practices, which is their main foraging habitat.

The dataset has been deposited and metadated on the LifeWatch Italy portal in compliance with international FAIR standards (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).

Transfiere 2022: Meetings with Collaborators


Every year, the Transfiere Forum serves as a brilliant opportunity to further cooperation with collaborators of LifeWatch ERIC, particularly in terms of ongoing projects in Spain.

Meeting with IFAPA 

On the first day of Transfiere 2022, 16 February, there was a meeting with Lourdes Fuster and Vicente Pérez, President and Secretary General of the Andalusian Institute for Research and Training in Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Organic Production (IFAPA), where it is worth highlighting IFAPA’s firm commitment to LifeWatch ERIC, especially in the field of agroecology.
IFAPA’s main task is to respond to the demands of the Andalusian agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and food sectors, with the intention of being an agile and effective instrument in its operation, realistic and pragmatic in its action programmes, and focused on in promoting research, technological innovation and training in the agricultural, fishing and food industries.

Meeting with AGAPA

The day after, on 17 February 2022, a meeting took place between LifeWatch ERIC CTO Juan Miguel González Aranda and Juan Carlos Álvarez Martín, Managing Director of the Andalusian Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency (AGAPA), and Amós García Hueso, Secretary General of AGAPA.
Of note is AGAPA’s involvement with the SMARTFOOD project, one of the projects financed by the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), which LifeWatch ERIC is currently carrying out. AGAPA, as the promoter of this project, has the objective of developing infrastructure in the Andalusian agriculture and fishing sector, for the future measurement of the impact in terms of sustainability.

At Transfiere 2022, LifeWatch ERIC also held an important meeting with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which you can read about here.

LifeWatch ERIC at the African Union – European Union Summit

African Union - European Union Summit

Over the course of last week, LifeWatch ERIC participated in several interesting side events of the African Union – European Union Summit, organised by the AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Platform. The purpose of the Summit was to promote awareness of the contribution of collaborative research and development as a critical aspect of EU-Africa relations and collaborations, in particular in addressing global challenges together.

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, presented in two sessions on 15 February: “Making the Green Deal a Reality in the Tropical World” – convened by The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF); along with “Green Medicines in Africa: Plant Molecular Pharming to fight the COVID-19 pandemic” – convened by Cape Biologix Technologies.

The first session was about finding what tools and insights are available to investors and policymakers who seek to make societies and business more sustainable and resilient, and how research can help bridge the gap between the accepting the challenge and implementing solutions. Dr González-Aranda spoke about understanding cutting-edge high tech and how it can enhance some of the oldest human technologies and agriculture, stepping up to the plate to manage the challenges of the Anthropocene, and how LifeWatch ERIC can support tropical ecosystems under the umbrella of the EU Green Deal.

The second session covered a drug to be developed by M4F to block SARS-CoV-2 infections. M4F’s first partnership to be signed is with Cape Bio Pharms, located in South Africa, and foresees mutual technology exchange for GMP production capacity building. This agreement was signed in the context of the EU-Africa Summit in February 2022. It should serve as a shining example to further develop the relations and exchange between Europe and Africa, in order to join forces fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. In his presentation, Dr González-Aranda brought attention to the ways LifeWatch ERIC supports knowledge enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystem services to provide green medicines.

Collaborations with the European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis


On 18 February 2022, shortly after attending the Transfiere Forum, LifeWatch ERIC CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda remained in Malaga for a meeting with The European Topic Center on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis (ETC-UMA). The discussion centred around the definition of cooperation areas with LifeWatch ERIC, specifically for the integration of the “Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Knowledge Platform” (MBPKP) as a LifeWatch ERIC VRE. All of this is based on the EnBIC-Lab2, Indalo, LifeWatch Alboran and other projects, in an area of cooperation within Horizon Europe where biodiversity is a key topic.

Information about ETC-UMA:

The European Topic Centre on Spatial Analysis and Synthesis (ETC-UMA) is an international research centre within the University of Malaga, which since 2011 has supported the development of knowledge to support evidence-based policy. The team has a wide expertise in a range of environmental and socio-economic domains, and its main areas of expertise include land management, ecosystem services, coastal and marine studies, environmental conservation, territorial development, resource efficiency, and soil mapping.

Information about MBPKP:

The MBPKP is an initiative of the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community (MBPC), which brings together researchers, managers, public authorities and environmental institutions in 15 thematic projects under the umbrella of one horizontal initiative for the Mediterranean. Until 2019 this was known as PANACeA until 2019, with renewed support as MBPC until 2022.

The objective of this community is to foster an ecosystem based approach to nature conservation. This overarching coordinating initiative aims to provide: scientific syntheses with clear messages and recommendations for use in management and to inform and influence current policy in the form of factsheets, technical and policy papers, and media materials; spatial tools and databases to generate new knowledge and better integrate past and current datasets from related projects; and enhanced communication and learning through networking and showcasing the outputs of the whole community of projects in key events and fora.

Meeting with IUCN at Transfiere 2022

IUCN Transfiere 2022

Last Wednesday 16 February, a meeting took place at the LifeWatch ERIC booth of the Transfiere Forum 2022 with Antonio Troya, IT Director of the IUCN, and Andrés Alcántara, the Corporate Development Department Director of the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, to reach an agreement focused on Mediterranean ecosystems. The IUCN also specialises in collaboration through structural funds and Horizon 2020.

As is well known, IUCN is a democratic Union that brings together the most influential organisations in the world and the best experts in the sector, in a combined effort to conserve nature and accelerate the transition to sustainable development. More specifically, the main objective of IUCN-MED is to influence, promote and help Mediterranean societies to achieve both the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, working towards sustainable development.

Transfiere 2022

Transfiere 2022

Transfiere is the biggest professional and multi-sectoral forum for knowledge and technology transfer in Spain, and the 2022 edition took place in Malaga from 16–17 February. As with every year, the famous forum gathered the most relevant players in the national and international fields of Research, Development and Innovation.

LifeWatch ERIC is a prominent player in these fields, as a developer of innovative technologies such as LifeBlock and Tesseract, which are helping to revolutionise biodiversity and ecosystem research and advance society’s progress towards achieving important goals such as the SDGs. It is only natural, then, that the research infrastructure was among the 600+ entities represented and among the 96 exhibition stands present at the forum. LifeWatch ERIC has a long-held tradition of attending Transfiere in order to raise awareness of the infrastructure, and to take the opportunity to network and forge new connections with a variety of stakeholders, as well as to promote its work on ERDF projects in the territory, such as SUMHAL.

The LifeWatch ERIC team –including Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda and Procurement & Institutional Relationship Officer Javier López-Torres– was on hand to welcome the Transfiere 2022 attendants to the stand, which also had a large area for informal meetings to take place. Among the visitors to the stand were Juan Carlos Álvarez Martín and Amós García Hueso, Managing Director and Secretary General of the Andalusian Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency, Lourdes Fuster and Vicente Pérez, President and Secretary General of the Andalusian Institute for Research and Training in Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Organic Production (IFAPA), as well as Andrés Alcántara and Antonio Troya from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – for more information on this last meeting, see here.

Gender, Equity & Research: In conversation with Africa Zanella on the International Day of Women in Science 2022

Women in Science

On the occasion of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Communication Officer, Sara Montinaro, interviewed Africa Zanella, the infrastructure’s International Gender Officer.

When asked to break down what her work entails for those unfamiliar with the position, Zanella explained:

“[My role] means ensuring that there is gender balance in decision-making: in processes, in programmes, in projects, there is always a gender lens […] sometimes when we start looking at research there are already established models which will not yet have been desegregated in terms of gender – so they are repeating the same mistakes over and over again, without giving due consideration to the idea that the role of women has changed over time and that needs have changed […] sustainability depends on women having an equal role.”

On the subject of her own experience working as a woman in scientific fields, she mused that, while “discrimination takes place everywhere”, she has always “broken barriers”, and that these experiences underpin her advocacy work.

“I don’t advocate for equality per se between men and women; I advocate for equal opportunity. If a woman chooses to go into science, there should be no barriers, just as if a man chooses to go into science there should be no barriers, and if different sexual identities go into science, there should be no barriers.”

She went on to identify the reasons why women and girls are often overlooked in research as stereotypesunconscious bias and cultural issues, explaining: “The established pattern has been there for such a long time that people assume that that’s the way it is, […] but the stereotype is not right across the board; there are a lot more women doctors than there were in the past, even over my own lifetime – but for researchers, it’s a different story.” Continuing, she proposed that the answer is to keep advocating for equality, and not to accept unfair treatment, advising “if your organisation does not appreciate your contribution and your relevance to the topic that is at hand, then you have to change,” emphasising that recognition should be defined by how we reward people financially.

Zanella concluded with the following message for young women in science:

“I hope that I encourage young girls to look at themselves as the carriers of this innovative practice which says ‘I am not a victim, and I am not a hero. But I am a human being and I want to live my full potential, therefore; don’t put any barriers in front of me. Let me see what the law says, let me see how my company is supporting me, let me see how I can make my contribution to the world.’ And that is the message that I would like to convey on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Make a contribution.”

You can listen to the full podcast below, or find it on all major podcast platorms.

LifeWatch ERIC Appoints Gender Expert to Assist its Work for Equality in Research

Gender Equality in Research

Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, has announced today the appointment of a social scientist and gender expert, Africa G Zanella, to take up the role of advising and directing the infrastructure’s strategy, policies and programmes from a gender-equality perspective.

LifeWatch ERIC is committed to seeing gender balance not only within the organisation, but also in line with European Union guidelines for Research Institutions regarding diversity and inclusion in research projects funded under ERDF,” said the CEO.

Zanella will design and implement a Gender Equality Plan which will be available to all stakeholders including researchers, staff, allies and the LifeWatch ERIC international community,  to create an equitable and sustainable environment for all at work. The plan will develop a cohesive front of human capital in LifeWatch ERIC’s quest to develop innovative research tools and systems for biodiversity and ecosystem scientists, to make a social, economic and environmental difference.

Zanella is an innovative thinker and challenges traditional approaches to problem solving. She has been appointed to the World Bank Climate Investment Fund for the 2021-23 period as a Civil Society Observer and is an accredited expert in Women’s Empowerment, Economic Growth and Green Industry for the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). She has special skills in the alignment of SDG 5 (Equality) with relevant SDGs to ensure that women play an important role in economic and social development and contribute to the wellbeing and survival of people and the planet. She hopes to be able to establish a transformative change that will see high-quality researchers from diverse backgrounds participate with LifeWatch ERIC in its mission and vision. 

Zanella was born in Spain and has lived and worked in Australia most of her life, where she has a distinguished career in international relations and sustainability. She can be contacted at gender@lifewatch.eu.