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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

Putting the pieces of the OpenNESS puzzle together

The final OpenNESS cross work package workshop took place on 5 to 9 October 2015 in the beautiful former-Franciscan monastery of La Foresta, near Leuven, in Belgium. The workshop focused on ways to integrate the OpenNESS results across different work packages, and made a first move towards the development of an overall synthesis. In addition, there was plenty of space for specific topic sessions, providing participants with many opportunities to work in small groups on insights and common products.

In order to engage participants in Oppla, an interactive session about the portal's helpdesk 'Ask Oppla' clearly increased support. Based on a plenary-identified list of potential users, participants formulated a possible question that such a user may provide the 'Ask Oppla' service with. In order to simulate how the service works for an 'Ask Oppla' expert, participants individually answered such a question, giving them insight into how different helpdesk questions may be dealt with in the future.

A 12 km long hike from the monastery to the Leuven city centre on the Wednesday afternoon, led the participants through contrasting Belgian landscapes, such as an age-old forest, a natural flood area, agricultural lands, a university park and several (historical) urban areas. During the walk, the participants enjoyed and observed the several ecosystem services these landscapes provide.

Enough time was set aside for the case study teams to exchange views in thematic groups (e.g. conflict resolution, ecosystem service trade-offs, EU policy implementation) and to discuss the similarities and differences in habitat groups like urban, forestry and mountains.

Receding in a relative isolated setting like La Foresta definitely helped the work as well as the social interactions. Learning the local traditional dances and songs gave the OpenNESS community the opportunity to play together which aided cooperation.

This third cross work package workshop was organized and hosted by INBO's Research Group Nature and Society.

Photos: © Nicole De Groof