Sandy Beaches Symposium: the world’s leading experts gather in Lecce

The IX International Sandy Beaches Symposium was held in Lecce, Italy, on June 24-27 2024. The event was an opportunity to bring the world’s leading experts on sandy coastal ecosystems together in the city.
Past, present, and future of sandy beaches were at the center of the symposium: biodiversity loss, abundance, distribution and dynamics of species of sandy beach ecosystems, climate change impacts, anthropogenic pressures (fisheries, tourism, etc), urbanization, the key role of marine protected areas, and the challenges of creating a network between them, coastal erosion and mitigation strategies, insights from environmental DNA metabarcoding and advanced statistical models, are some of the many topics brought up for discussion by experts from all over the globe.

From Orkney sandy beaches, in Scotland, to the coastal ecosystems of Namibia and Costa Rica, to the sandy beaches of California and Apulia region: the event gathered some of the most renowned experts in the field, offering a unique opportunity to explore the latest research and developments in this disciplinary area, while illustrating to the public the importance of sandy beaches and the challenges we are facing in safeguarding these fragile and threatened ecosystems.

The symposium was an opportunity to present and discuss the state of the art in the field of sandy beach research, from a national, regional and global perspective. The event was organized by the University of Salento, with the support of LifeWatch ERIC.

Among the scientists invited as high-level keynote speakers were: Prof. John M Baxter, University of St Andrews and Heriot-Watt University; Prof. Omar Defeo, Unidad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay; Prof. Mike Elliott, Professor of Estuarine and Coastal Sciences at the University of Hull, UK; Dr. Shinji Sassa, Chair of the International Technical Committee on Scour and Erosion National Institute of Maritime, Port and Aviation Technology, Japan; Prof. Alberto Basset, Full Professor of Ecology at the University of Salento and LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director; Dr. Lucia Fanini, researcher at the University of Salento, etc.

To learn more about the International Sandy Beaches Symposium, please visit the dedicated website:

A future for the Critical Zone? Insights from the Gran Paradiso Summer School 2024

gran paradiso summer school

From 19 to 23 June in Valsavarenche, Italy, scientists, researchers, and students from various disciplines are attending lectures, workshops, and fieldwork sessions at the Gran Paradiso Summer School. This year, the school’s theme is “Fundamental Processes in Earth System Dynamics – The Future of Critical Zone”.

Hosted at the Gran Paradiso National Park, the school aims to foster a deeper understanding of Earth Sciences, with lecturers from Europe, the United States, Japan, and Taiwan. Thanks to its interdisciplinary approach, it provides a platform for geologists, ecologists, hydrologists, and scientists working in these fields to collaborate and share their expertise. Our CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, is participating in the Summer School programme, presenting LifeWatch ERIC’s activities in the Special Seminars session.

Participants also have the opportunity to discuss multidisciplinary and cross-domain interactions, which are crucial for developing comprehensive strategies. These conversations aim to bridge the gap between scientific research and practical applications, ensuring that the knowledge gained can inform future actions and conservation efforts.

The international Gran Paradiso Summer School is organised by Timothy White (Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Antonello Provenzale (CNR IGG, Pisa, Italy, and Coordinator of the LifeWatch Italy Joint Research Unit) in the framework of the Belmont Forum ABRESO project and of the Italian project coordinating a network of national nodes from 22 Research Infrastructures (ITINERIS), in collaboration with the Gran Paradiso National Park, LifeWatch ERIC, and eLTER RI. To learn more about the school, please visit this page:

The World Register of Marine Species and Edaphobase join forces to strengthen biodiversity information systems for scientific research

LifeWatch Belgium‘s World Register of Marine Species and Edaphobase have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate and share information. The aim is to promote the use of biodiversity information systems for scientific research, avoid duplication of effort, identify overlaps between initiatives, and establish an open exchange of taxonomic information.

The Soil Biodiversity Data Warehouse Edaphobase is a publicly accessible data warehouse that synthesises and standardises occurrence and taxonomic data on soil invertebrates and links them to environmental site parameters in space and time. Edaphobase is hosted and operated by the Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz, Department of Soil Zoology, and managed by the Edaphobase Steering Committee, consisting of soil zoologists and software developers, who are responsible for the curation and further development of the data warehouse for the needs of the international research community.

The first joint goal will be a close collaboration between Edaphobase and The World Database of Nematodes Nemys, an integrated part of WoRMS. Both databases will benefit from exchanging information and data already available and yet to be compiled: Edaphobase will reuse the Nematoda phylogeny of Nemys as the taxonomic backbone of its soil nematode distribution data. Similarly, country-level data and trait information in Edaphobase will supplement the information on the distribution of soil nematode species in Nemys.

This agreement also contributes to the continued development of LifeWatch Belgium’s Species Information Backbone (LW-SpIBB), which also aims to bring together taxonomic and species-related data, thereby filling the gaps in our knowledge and reducing duplication of efforts. To learn more, please visit this page:

Image: Oscheius dolichura (Nematoda) – Astrid König – Senckenberg Görlitz

RESTORE4Cs 4th General Assembly

restore4cs general assembly

From 27 to 30 May, the RESTORE4Cs 4th General Assembly took place at the University of Valencia in Spain. The Assembly included discussions on project expectations, policy roadmaps, data repositories and more.

RESTORE4C aims to assist in implementing Climate and Biodiversity policies under the European Green Deal by collecting data on restoration and land use management, developing integrated assessment tools, creating a European Community of Practice (ECoP), and collaborating on a multi-actor approach.

Prof. Joaquin Baixeras from the University of Valencia opened the meeting, followed by Case Pilot representatives discussing project expectations and interactions. As part of the project, RESTORE4Cs has identified six Case Pilots, including coastal wetland ecosystems of different conservation statuses and types of restoration actions. These sites provide a good geographical representation of Europe and its biogeographical regions: Mediterranean, Atlantic, Baltic and the Black Sea. The other presentations focused on policy roadmaps, analysis methodology, models, and scenarios.

On 28 May, the European Community of Practice for Wetlands Restoration launched its roadmap. The meeting included communication updates, the launch of a documentary trailer, the finalisation of the filming schedule, stakeholder interviews, fieldwork and laboratory analyses, and the presentation of project information layers.

On the last day of the RESTORE4Cs 4th General Assembly, the consortium visited the local Case Pilot, Marjal dels Moros, and saw the project’s sampling zone. They also enjoyed visiting the Albufera Natural Park and a boat ride on the Albufera Lake. To learn more, please visit:

A postcard from the European Congress of Conservation Biology

eccb 2024

The European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB), organised by the Europe Section of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), was held in Bologna from 17 to 21 June 2024. The Congress aimed to facilitate the exchange of conservation science and nature conservation practice and policy to promote the conservation of biological diversity in Europe.

The 7th ECCB focused on achieving a biodiversity-positive status by 2030. This theme presents a positive message and a call to action towards conserving biodiversity. Despite the challenges, new protected areas were established, carbon emissions were reduced, and there is a growing awareness of biodiversity’s importance for survival.

LifeWatch ERIC joined the conference, contributing to its scientific programme and engaging with participants and researchers from Europe and beyond, thanks to its exhibition booth. Cristina Di Muri and Flavio Monti (CNR/LifeWatch Italy) presented two contributions, “Harnessing FAIR biodiversity data and services to assess incidence and habitat vulnerability to non-indigenous species in Italy” and “Enhancing biodiversity conservation analysis through data harmonization” respectively. In parallel, LifeWatch ERIC booth proved to be a valuable means to engage with over 150 representatives of the community of Conservation Biologists gathered at the event, illustrating its offer of services and science tools and understanding their needs for ICT resources, thanks to the dedicated survey administered at LifeWatch ERIC stand.

Overall, the European Congress of Conservation Biology provided a platform for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and collaborate toward achieving a sustainable future. By working together and taking action, we can make significant progress in conserving Earth’s biodiversity and achieving a positive biodiversity world by 2030.

BioDT Annual Meeting 2024: Shaping the Future of Biodiversity Research

BioDT Annual Meeting

LifeWatch ERIC participated in the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Biodiversity Digital Twin (BioDT) project, which took place on 11-12 June 2024 at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany. The meeting had a hybrid format, allowing both in-person and remote participation.

The meeting covered the operational models of pDTs (physical Digital Twins) and sustainable pathways beyond the project’s lifecycle. It also discussed outreach, promotion, and training strategies for pDTs, as well as a Winter/Spring School that will take place most likely at the end of February 2025.

Additionally, the BioDT Annual Meeting was an occasion to share and validate progress of the technical architecture of the BioDT project as a whole and the related app, to discuss modelling and embedding scientific models into digital twins focusing on biodiversity, and to analyse data streams aligned with FAIR principles.

To learn more about the meeting, please visit the dedicated web page:

About the BioDT Project

BioDT represented a groundbreaking effort to redefine our predictive understanding of biodiversity dynamics. By leveraging advanced modelling, simulation, and prediction capabilities, BioDT aimed to provide critical infrastructure to drive long-term biodiversity research, facilitate science-driven policy, and enable rapid-response actions. 

LifeWatch ERIC at the conference that shape the future of Research Infrastructures

The conference “Research Infrastructures in a Changing Global, Environmental and Socio-economic Context,” organised as part of the Belgian Presidency of the European Council, is taking place today at the Royal Library of Belgium. This conference, running on 4 and 5 June, aims to highlight the crucial role of research infrastructures in addressing societal, global, and economic challenges. The Belgian presidency programme prioritises research and innovation to foster open strategic autonomy, enhance the valorisation of research outcomes, and reinforce the role of research in overcoming industrial and societal challenges. This conference aims to address global challenges through collaborative and innovative research infrastructures.

Inmaculada Figueroa, Vice Director General for International Consortia, Organisations and Research Infrastructures (Spanish Research Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities), is moderating the “Research Infrastructures as Actors of Open Strategic Autonomy” session. Figueroa is also a member of the EOSC Steering Board and a delegate to the LifeWatch ERIC General Assembly.

The event features keynotes and sessions over two days, focusing on the future vision for research infrastructures, their socio-economic and environmental impact, and the broader research infrastructure ecosystem. The sessions, moderated by personnel from the European Commission and national research bodies, focus on the impact of global contexts, challenges in supply chains, digitalisation, AI, and the role of European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERIC).

These sessions offer significant advantages by providing shared resources and expertise across Europe. They enhance collaborative research efforts, reduce duplication of efforts, and foster innovation by enabling access to state-of-the-art facilities and data. Being part of the dialogue and shaping the European research landscape at different levels is crucial for the ERICs to achieve their missions. Our CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, also participated in the conference, as we aim to advance biodiversity and ecosystem research and contribute significantly to addressing environmental challenges such as climate change.