TESS has designed a decision support system that can make it easy for policy makers to integrate local knowledge into their decision making, while also guiding and encouraging local activities that restore and maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services. Our vision is to enlighten, encourage and empower local communities to support biodiversity restoration across Europe, through an internet system that unifies all available knowledge to guide decisions for the benefit of biodiversity and livelihoods.
TESS first listed and analyzed government information requirements at national and intermediate levels and identified local information needs. It then created a database of models suitable for bio-socio-economic predictions and identified gaps in the supply of models and data, compared with the requirements for information. Case studies of local communities tested how best to meet local decision support needs in exchange for local monitoring that meets central policy requirements. Case studies also examined whether local monitoring (based on schools, NGOs, local community groups or individuals motivated by use of natural resources) can supply the extra environmental data that are needed. A survey of national government and local practices, in the 27 EU member states plus Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine, identified factors associated with effective application of formal assessments (EIA+SEA), together with priority areas for internet-based decision support and local monitoring to benefit livelihoods and biodiversity.
The central result is the socio-economic and technical design for a Transactional Environmental Support System (TESS) to support exchange of environmental information between central and local levels, as well as meeting commitments in many areas of the Convention of Biological Diversity. The design is being tested by implementing socio-economic design in a knowledge portal to continue beyond TESS (www.naturalliance.eu) towards the intelligent GIS that could exchange decision support for fine-scale mapping of decision outcomes. This approach will enable integration and delivery of formal environmental assessment systems with local knowledge and practices, through information and communication technologies, including GPS, remote/local sensing, and internet/mobile services. The aims of TESS are more ambitious than supporting central policy. The ultimate aim is to aid restoration and maintenance of biodiversity and natural resources by reversing the processes that caused so much degradation. Results also include recommendations and policy guidelines based on how biodiversity trends relate to different practices across Europe, addressed to those involved in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies - at European, national, regional, and local levels.
Overall TESS has been a thoroughly Pan-European collaboration. Although much more research about information needs and technical development of decision-support mechanisms is required, we hope that moving into a practical implementation phase will be possible in the next year. In this we look forward to strengthening partnerships with existing colleagues and entering into new ones. In particular we are deeply appreciative of the offer of the Executive Director of the European Environment Agency at our final conference in Brussels on 25th May 2011 to provide a home for TESS in the longer term. Furthermore, we are seeking further support from the European Commission's research services through an application for funding through the FP7-Environment programme, while we have also started to engage hundreds of millions of natural resource beneficiaries throughout Europe, via their representatives organisations.
We remain convinced that environmental information needs to be gathered and used freely by ordinary citizens, within a common EU-wide framework and subject to safeguards about what is sensitive at an individual level. We believe that such an approach will demonstrate that land-managers are not the problem but the solution to conserving and restoring Europe's biodiversity.
Report of the TESS closing conference in Brussels, May 2011, presenting recommendations and policy guidelines based on biodiversity management practices across Europe.
TESS Final Report [PDF, 417KB]
Policy guidelines based on biodiversity management practices across Europe.
TESS policy recommendations and guidelines [PDF, 3.928KB]
A survey of government practices. Country Coordinators collected data systematically by means of a questionnaire design based on findings of previous work in the project; they applied a similar process at local level. The objective was to assess how their use of SEA and SIA has affected ecosystem services and biodiversity.
Pan-European survey of assessment processes [PDF, 2.325KB]
Synthesis report on central and local information flows and decision making requirements for strategic environmental assessment (SEA), sustainability impact assessment (SIA), environmental impact assessments (EIA), and other environmental decision making at all levels.
Synthesis report: Central and local information flows and decision making requirements [PDF, 660KB]
Appendix [PDF, 53KB]
Identification of practical needs and stakeholder perspectives in relation to decision making at the local and regional level, especially for environmental impact assessments (EIA).
Model of the local decision making process [PDF, 1.040KB]
Identification of the information needs of policy makers, especially for strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and sustainability impact assessment (SIA), and how information is currently obtained.
Model of information flows from local and regional to central [PDF, 599KB]