The Albufera International Biodiversity group is a multi-disciplinary field project set up in 1989 to monitor environmental change at s’Albufera de Mallorca whilst at the same time providing advice and information for the effective management of s’Albufera de Mallorca. This is being achieved through the constant monitoring of indicator species, and functional analysis of the ecosystem with targeted studies.

Context and people

The project was originally inspired and funded by Max Nicholson through the conservation volunteer organization, Earthwatch Europe, but since 1997 has been kept going through the generosity of an international team of scientists –TAIB– who volunteer their time and effort freely to the project. TAIB comprises an independent team of scientists and people who loves nature, drawn from the UK, Mallorca, Spain and other parts of Europe to evaluate the effects of a controlled management regime on biodiversity and the environment, assess the relative contributions to change made by management and outside factors (including climate change) and provide scientifically based guidance for conservation management planning. This is being achieved through the constant monitoring of indicator species, and functional analysis of the ecosystem with targeted studies, often in collaboration with internationally recognised scientists and research institutes. In addition, the Project specialises in biodiversity training and invites competent volunteers to assist in data collection and monitoring. This allows the project to gather an unusually extensive data set at relatively low cost.
TAIB 1990

Objectives

TAIB’S principal aim is to gather information on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of s’Albufera in order to:

  1. provide a sound basis of scientific knowledge to assist conservation of the environment.
  2. advise the park on management to meet its conservation objectives,

The question we are trying to answer is: How can wetlands and coastal dunes be effectively managed to maintain biodiversity and their related social, economic and natural services? To achieve this, TAIB has been working in:

  1. the use of environmental sites as an educational resource to create environmental awareness;
  2. demonstrating the economic importance of wetland conservation through its ecological function;
  3. the use of indicators of change to provide a basis for sound investment and planning decisions at s’Albufera and in general conservation practice;
  4. establishing S’Albufera as a station for monitoring environmental change and to provide the baseline from which future changes can be assessed.
    Gestió de l'espai

    What do we do?

    This project has two main lines of work that fed one to the other: first training and research on biodiversity and on the other side, analysis of the environmental changes. The training program arise monitoring of biodiversity and long-term experiments or monitoratges that respond to environmental changes induced by the team and manager of the park.

    Research

    In terms of research, our fields of study can be classified as following:
    Human impact studies:Regional expanding tourism and the intensification of agriculture place considerable pressure on the NP. TAIB studies evaluate the influence of human-induced activities on s´Albufera and determine the degree of environmental impact.
    Biodiversity studies: Biodiversity studies are carried out on ecosystem, species and landscape level. TAIB specializes in a broad taxonomic approach, effectively achieved through the engagement and support of leading taxonomists.
    Ecological and Monitoring studies: TAIB research encompasses the description of ecological requirements of the flora, fauna and habitats of s’Albufera and long term studies, changes in bio-indicator populations, such as insects, aquatic vegetation and orchids.
    Park management studies:These are studies that formulate ideas to optimize current park management strategies from the findings of TAIB impact studies. Park management include tasks such as maintenance, cattle grazing, water sluice management, canal cleaning, education and facilitation of public use of the park.
    Interpretation, education and capacity building:
    Environmental educational tools have been developed to implement s’Albufera’s education department. Studies to enlarge the protected areas for environmental interpretation and visitors surveys have been carried out.

    Formation, education and training

    Education and volunteer participation are considered to be key activities of TAIB. The educational objective is to increase insight in biodiversity conservation and wetland management.
    TAIB organizes an “International capacity building field course: Monitoring for biodiversity and environmental change at s’Albufera de Mallorca”. It has been developing steadily since 1989, usually in Spring (April/May) and Autumn (October/November). Teams, consisting of volunteers, scientists and students, are designed to allow scientific fieldwork to be conducted in parallel with a training program – particularly in the related topics of biodiversity and environmental management.
    TAIB aims to enhance the skills of the participants in doing ecological fieldwork (design of fieldwork studies, sampling methods, statistics, data analysis). The course is multidisciplinary and participants are encouraged to place the fieldwork in the context of local management strategies and regional/global environmental change. TAIB fieldwork teams comprise TAIB scientists working alongside with volunteers, protected area managers, personnel from environmental NGOs and others with an interest in ecology, biodiversity, conservation, physical geography or similar subjects. The courses are in English but TAIB scientists also include a good number of Spanish and French speakers so these languages can also be accommodated.

    (Inter)national collaboration and initiatives

    University of the Balearic Islands (UIB)

    Over the last few years, the TAIB group has been keen to recruit Balearic and Spanish students who are able to carry out the research and routine monitoring work at regular intervals throughout the year. The relationship with UIB and IMEDEA (Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies) UIB-CSIC has been of great benefit in identifying a number of knowledgeable and enthusiastic young scientists who are willing and able to participate. This has allowed us to expand our long-term monitoring work in a number of areas.

    International Research Institutes

    For a number of years,TAIB has benefited from a collaboration with Wageningen University (Holland). Through a series of Masters’ research projects, gaps in knowledge are being filled and more detailed information gathered, particularly regarding impacts on the environmental quality, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity protection of the Park. An intensive collaboration with the University of York Research Masters programme, begun in 2001, and it will extend this programme further. Another collaboration is with Tour du Valat Biological Station (France), in particular relating to reedbed management and the use of livestock for conservation purposes. Studies on soil nutrient dynamics have been carried out with the Royal Holloway Institute for Environmental Research (RHIER), University of London. The University College London Ecology and Conservation Unit was in s’Albufera to undertake baseline data collection, research dissertations and field courses. The centre for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science, University of Aberdeen (Scotland) used to work in remote sensing and habitat mapping).

    MEDWETCOAST

    Untill 2003 TAIB provided a training programme for wetland managers from a regional project of UNDP entitled ‘ Conservation of Wetland and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region (MedWetCoast)’. This project aimed at conserving threatened coastal and wetland biodiversity in 15 key sites in six countries/authority (Albania, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority and Tunisia). The wetland monitoring and management components of this programme build on the achievements of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet).

    WWF Mediterranean

    Untill 2005 TAIB provided a capacity building for environmental NGOs in collaboration with WWF-Mediterranean which sponsors the participants through its “Across the waters” program. Trainees are staff form NGOs and other organisations working in conservation, environmental management and similar activities such as environmental education.

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