From 12 to 14 June 2018, the French city of Dunkirk hosted the International Workshop on Management of Coastal Dunes and Sandy Beaches, organized by the Agency of Nature and Forests of the Flemish authority and with collaboration from the Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale within the framework of the LIFE+ Nature project FLANDRE. The BOS+ and EUCC-France organizations supported the efforts.
Life+ARCOS attended this international seminar with participants from the University of Oviedo (J. Ignacio Felpete) and the company Ecología Litoral (Carlos Ley).
Tuesday 12 June (opening session, LIFE session projects and first parallel sessions)
At the opening session on 12 June, the European perspective was represented with speeches given by two members of the Directorate-General of Natural Environment of the European Commission: François Delcueillerie, affiliate of the Life program and Michéal O’Briain, his counterpart of the Nature Protection Unit.
Later, John Houston from NEEMO explained the need to boost the biogeographic process for the Atlantic Biogeographical Region, an initiative that works to increase efforts and actions to develop the conservation of our habitats within a biogeographic context.
To close the opening session, Loïc Gouguet, National Forest Administration of France (ONF-Office National des Forêts) and Jean-Louis Herrier, from the Flemish Agency for Nature and Forests, talked about the advancements in the habitat protection of 2,130 grey dunes in France and the importance of cross-border cooperation to protect the dune habitats, which is carried out within the Life+FLANDR project, providing support to maintain the French-Belgian Natura 2000 Network.
After the coffee break, the inspiring LIFE projects session started. It was hosted by Edy Fantinato, head of the LIFE REDUNE project, which aims to restore diverse spaces within the Natura 2000 Network on the Venetian coast. During his speech, Fantinato explained the project’s main objectives and foreseen joint efforts.
The following session was led by Gundega Ulme and Vilis Zinkevics from Carnikava, Lithuania city hall and members of the LIFE15 NAT/LV/000900 project. Both talked about the CoHaBit project, which aims to conserve the coastal habitats of Piejura Natural Park in Lithuania.
J. Ignacio Felpete, researcher for the Life+ARCOSproject, was the next to speak. He did not give a session about the project’s objectives and action points, but about the main differences between Cantabrian and European dunes. He pointed out the urgent need to prioritize their conservation. The presentation was titled “Prioritizing the conservation of coastal dunes in Northern Spain” and concluded with participation from the audience by asking the tough question: “Can we really talk about conserving Cantabrian dune systems considering their current state?” In this situation, the more correct term to use would be restore instead of conserve.
Nadia Sanz Casas, Eric Girard and Etienne Dubaille, from the Conservatoire du Littoral presented on the LIFE Adapto project. They taught us about the 10 flexible-management systems on the coast that they are putting into practice.
Lunch in the poster room allowed attendees to talk about their experiences with other projects focused on coastline protection. Then, the first parallel sessions started:
- Climate change & coastal dynamics (moderated by Yvonne BATTIAU-QUENEY, head of EUCC France)
- Ecosystem services from dunes and beaches (moderated by Jean HUGÉ from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB, Belgium)
- Spatial fragmentation and ecological connectivity (moderated by Jean-Louis HERRIER, Agency for Nature and Forests, Flanders, Belgium)
Wednesday, 13 June (Excursion)
We met near the Opalo Coast University at 8:00 AM to make our way towards the French/Belgium cross-border dune complex. We visited the Bray-Dunes (Dune du Perroquet) on the French side, Panne dunes (De Westhoek) on the Belgian side, tertiary fossil dunes of Carbour-domein in Belgium, and finally, the fossil dunes of Ghyvelde in France.
During the 17-km long visit, members of the French and Belgian coastal conservation agencies (EUCC-France, Opalo Coast University) and other centres explained the work they carry out. During the 12-stop tour, we saw all the habitat dunes in that area.
Here are some images of our trip and of some of the habitats undergoing active work.
Thursday, 14 June (second parallel sessions, workshop on Atlantic Dune Roadmap, conclusions and post-workshop excursion)
The last three parallel sessions took place on Thursday morning. The topics and moderators were:
- Climate change & atmospheric nitrogen deposition versus biodiversity (moderated by Hubert BRABANT from EDEN 62 and EUCC France)
- Integrating nature development in coastal defence (moderated by Kristien OOMS from BOS+, Belgium)
- Management planning and monitoring (moderated by Marie-Claire PRAT from EUCC France)
After the coffee break (an opportunity to chat with the poster artists), a workshop on the Atlantic Dune Roadmap, within the Biogeographic Process promoted by Europe, was held.
John Houston from NEEMO and Jean-Louis Herrier from the Flemish Agency for Nature and Forests (Flanders, Belgium) were in charge of evaluating the current state of this roadmap. All attendees were encouraged to join improvement efforts. V.3 of this roadmap should be ready by September of next year. They hope to get the financing needed to implement it more efficiently.
They especially focused on the need to boost national networks within this context. Maike Isermann from the University of Bremen requested everyone’s help to progress in exchanging experiences in eliminating exotic invasive species.
Finally, the moderators of each of the 6 parallel sessions held on Tuesday and Thursday proceeded to give a detailed lecture on their conclusions.
Michéal O’Briain and Jean-Louis Herrier gave the closing speech.