Keynote speakers

We are happy to share the keynote speakers of SERE 2024 conference here!
The information on this page is updated continuously.

ANNELY HOLM

Annely Holm

Annely Holm is currently working in the Estonian University of Life Sciences as a project coordinator of LIFE programme project "LIFE Connecting Meadows". Annely has 15 year experience in heritage grassland restoration and management in Estonia. In 2014-2019 she worked as a project coordinator for the project "LIFE to alvars" that was chosen in 2022 by the European Commission as the best LIFE project carried out in the last 30 years. During the last 7 years she has developed a sustainable management system for the heritage grasslands in Western Estonian islands in cooperation with local farmers managing heritage grasslands. 

 

Fascinating journey of restoring the species rich heritage grasslands and building up a sustainable management system in Western Estonian islands.

This journey started in 2014 with the large-scale alvar grassland restoration in Western-Estonia. In the frames of LIFE programme project “LIFE to alvars” we restored 2500 hectares of habitats within 5 years. . In 2020 follow up LIFE project "LIFE connecting meadows" started in Muhu island, Estonia.  Need for this work was obvious- although the Estonian wooded meadows, alvars and coastal meadows have suffered large decrease in habitat area during past 60 years, most if the light demanding species are still present on sites as remnant populations, occurring on few remaining open spots on each site. However, eventually species richness will start to correspond to current, smaller and more fragmented habitat areas, which results in extinctions of currently present remnant populations. In addition to decreasing habitat area, the increasing isolation of remnant habitat patches have resulted in very low ecological connectivity - they are too far apart from each other to allow necessary seed dispersal between the sites. In order to turn this around – we needed large-scale restoration effort.

This rapid increase in the restoration demanded participation of landowners, farmers and increase in the numbers of grazing animals. It became clear that in order to provide sustainable management of these sites the system around it also needed to develop. The main issue arising was slaughtering, products and marketing of the meat produced on the heritage grasslands. As a spin-off of the project farmers’ coop, “Muhu island meat” was formed in 2017. Coop brings together farmers managing the restored heritage grasslands with sheep and cattle. Aim of the coop is to organize the slaughtering, produce making and marketing of the coop members but also for the heritage grassland farmers from outside the coop. This supporting system is vital in keeping the heritage grasslands in favourable condition and providing income for the farmers.

MARKO KOHV

Marko Kohv Portree V

Marko Kohv is a Research Fellow at the University of Tartu and Director of the Estonian Wetland Society. Since 2007, he has been one of a leading practitioner in Estonian wetland restoration, contributing to both state-wide and local projects in wetland restoration planning, implementation, and monitoring. He played a key role in the LIFE Mires Estonia project, which won the European The best Natura 2000 Conservation on land project award in 2024. His research interests include wetland resilience, hydrology, ecology, geology, wetland restoration planning, and innovative monitoring systems like IoT solutions and unmanned vehicles.

Marko is also a passionate advocate for wetland conservation, having published numerous popular science articles in various newspapers and journals. He has organized multiple wetland symposiums, made several movies and appeared on various TV shows to educate the public about wetlands and their restoration. If the conversation is about wetlands and their restoration in Estonia, you can quite safely bet that journalists will be reaching out to him.

JONNE KOTTA

Rptnboz

Jonne Kotta is an active member of many of the world's leading research communities, specialising in disciplines such as the ecology of marine algae and benthic invertebrates, species interactions, spatial modelling, alien species, and linking ecosystem functioning to services, the bio-economy and climate change. His work bridges theoretical science with practical management through various modelling techniques. He is currently developing regional web-based spatial decision support tools to promote the blue bioeconomy (e.g. algae, mussel farming and multi-purpose solutions), support mitigation processes (e.g. assessing cumulative impacts of management scenarios, quantifying habitat restoration potential) and improve marine management and maritime spatial planning decisions. This expertise is essential for current management plans and is likely to lead to clearer visions and strategies for the future.

 

Blueprint for a healthy Baltic Sea: Assessing the current state and solutions for ecological improvement

Jonne Kotta, Antonio Aguera Garcia, Ilja Maljutenko, Ants Kaasik, Mihhail Fetissov, Øivind Strand, Morten Skogen

The diversification and intensification of human activities in marine environments are significantly impacting valuable habitats, necessitating improved planning and scenario calculations. Current digital tools that predict the environmental impacts of human activities are primitive and rely heavily on expert opinion. In our era of big data, it is crucial to shift to data-driven models to map human impacts within complex ecosystems, aiding in habitat restoration and improvement.

One effective solution is an environmental digital twin for dynamic impact assessments, exploiting open-access mapping resources to address data scarcity and quality challenges. AI-based tools can extract knowledge and numerical evidence from scientific papers to assess human impacts. A web-based, open-access digital twin allows users to define sustainable developmental paths, reduce cumulative environmental impacts, improve habitat recovery, and empower the blue bioeconomy, enhancing environmental health and socio-economic benefits.

As a case study, we demonstrate the potential of low trophic aquaculture as a nature-based solution for nutrient sequestration in the Baltic Sea, addressing eutrophication challenges. Traditional nutrient management strategies are insufficient, and innovative solutions are needed. Despite the benefits, such aquaculture systems are limited by a lack of robust assessment tools. Our research uses environmental data from a pioneering farm integrating native drifting brown seaweed, Fucus vesiculosus, and blue mussel, Mytilus trossulus, in the Baltic Sea's low salinity waters. By incorporating Dynamic Energy Budget models within a 3D hydrodynamic framework, our farm model assesses the sequestration capabilities of these low-trophic species, showing significant improvements in water clarity and habitat restoration.

Integrating this farm model with a fish farming model demonstrates the viability of net-zero emission fish farming systems, promising better coastal water quality and sustainable food production. Our results advocate for wider adoption of low-trophic, multiple-use farming solutions in the Baltic Sea and similar environments, highlighting innovative aquaculture's critical role in addressing environmental challenges.

LINDA LAIKRE

Linda Laikre

Linda Laikre is professor of population genetics with a research focus on conservation issues. She is interested in monitoring of genetic diversity and developing indicators for this level of biodiversity and she leads such implementation in Sweden and internationally. She also works with conservation policy and particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity where she has helped improve implementation for genetic diversity.

 

Genetic diversity indicators and their relevance for biodiversity restoration efforts

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