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Safeguarding Biodiversity and Critical Ecosystem Services: the HORIZON Europe GUARDEN Project Kicks Off!

On December 1st, the project GUARDEN ‘safeGUARDing biodivErsity aNd critical ecosystem services across sectors and scales’ held its physical kick off meeting in Montpellier, France. This 36-month EU-funded Research and Innovation Action funded under the HORIZON Europe programme, officially started on the 1st of November 2022. 

Mr. Sozos Karageorgiou, R&D Technical Project Manager, Dr. Kontantina Panagiotou, R&D Program Manager / Researcher, and Dr. Ioanna Ioannou, R&D Project Manager at eBOS, participated in the physical kick-off-meeting, which was chaired by Dr. Pierre Bonnet representing CIRAD, as the coordinator of GUARDEN. The meeting was attended by the project’s 16 partners and included partners’ presentations of the vision and objectives of the project as well as of an overview of the overall project expectations and guidelines by the European Commission’s project officer. Partners also discussed the project’s work plan, challenges and risks identified and implementation schedules.

GUARDEN will make use of a suite of methods and tools using Deep Learning, Earth Observation, and hybrid modelling to augment the amount of standardized and geo-localized biodiversity data, build-up a new generation of predictive models of biodiversity and ecosystem status indicators under multiple pressures (human and climate), and propose a set of complementary ecological indicators likely to be incorporated into local management and policy.

The GUARDEN approach will be applied at sectoral case studies involving end users and stakeholders through Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships, and addressing critical cross-sectoral challenges (at the nexus of biodiversity and deployment of energy/transport infrastructure, agriculture, and coastal urban development). Thus, the GUARDEN DSAs shall help stakeholders engaged in the challenge to improve their holistic understanding of ecosystem functioning, biodiversity loss and its drivers and explore the potential ecological and societal impacts of alternative decisions. Upon the acquisition of this new knowledge and evidence, the DSAs will help end-users not only navigate but also (re-)shape the policy landscape to make informed all-encompassing decisions through cross-sectoral integration.

In GUARDEN, eBOS will lead the integration and configuration work of the GUARDEN system, as defined in the tool architecture, and with respect to the system requirements. Additionally, it will design and implement the graphical Human Machine Interface (HMI). Moreover, eBOS will lead the build of a detailed testing plan, ensuring the stringent KPI requirements needed for the successful delivery of innovative social innovation and, citizen and stakeholder engagement, providing in further details, and refining, the initial planning developments. eBOS will also lead the preparation of the evaluation of the results, including behavioural indications on the baseline conditions, relevant assumptions to be considered (if any), workflow, checklists and templates, reference/target KPIs to be met/benchmarked, and key roles and interactions within this process in order to assess the performance of the system, provide feedback for refinements and, eventually, final recommendations. Apart from designing and maintaining the project’s website, eBOS will also contribute to the elaboration of GUARDEN dissemination and sustainability plans and present project’s results to key associations through its membership (e.g., DAIRO, AIOTI, NGI, NESSI). Lastly, eBOS will act as the quality assurance and risk manager of the project.