Local Community as an Alarm System for Preserving High Mountain Aquatic Habitats of Serbia Impacted By Climate Change

16 Jun 2016 Mt. Stara Planina, Serbia, Europe Habitats

Maja Ilić

This project aims to assess the status of diversity of high mountain aquatic habitats of Serbia due to the effects of climate change and establish long term monitoring

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The importance of high mountain aquatic ecosystems and their sensitivity to climate change has been more and more evident. In this project, we hope to determine the impact of climate change on the current diversity of aquatic ecosystems, especially good indicator species, such as macrozoobenthos and amphibians.

All activities of the project will be conducted completely or partly within protected areas (Protected landscape Vlasina and Natural Landscape Stara Planina), where also the lowest average incomes and living standard in Serbia are recorded. Advantage of this project is the potential for improving local community in a sustainable way- increasing attractiveness for eco-tourism by preserving local aquatic ecosystems as important biodiversity centres.

The main conception of this project is to assess the status of diversity due to the effects of climate change. In order to obtain the results about studied populations and changes of environmental variables we will form the alarm teams that will consist of trained local residents, fishermen, NGOs and local authorities.

Volunteer teams will also be established for working on the preservation of viability of aquatic ecosystems. Volunteers will be trained to process data and work on conservation of aquatic habitats, they will have the opportunity to enhance their field skills and implement conservation actions in the future. We need to diagnose the current situation, which is dependent upon sensible monitoring program. Volunteer teams will be able to proceed with the monitoring and conservation actions after completion of this project. Monitoring established by this project will serve as a pattern for managing the other mountain aquatic ecosystems in Serbia threatened by climate change. In long term, it could lead to establishment of national network.

The results of this project will be used in conservation planning and making the integral index of aquatic ecosystem quality.

The main prerequisite in mitigation of climate change effects to mountain aquatic habitats is to raise awareness of local communities. To fulfil this goal it is necessary to promote a chain of educational and promotional activities and overcome indifference in the local community.

The team consists of experienced biologists from Faculty of Science and Mathematics of University of Niš, biologist from Faculty of Science and Mathematics of University of Kragujevac and members of Biological Society "Dr Sava Petrović" (BSDSP).

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