Assessment of
Ecosystems under Global
A Concerted Action funded by the 5th Framework Programme of the European Commission
«Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development»; Life time 2002 - 2005
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AVEC International Summer School: 18 - 30 September 2005, co-sponsored by the EU Network of Excellence ALTER-Net and the EU Integrated Projects ENSEMBLES, ALARM, NeWater and CarboEurope

Download the AVEC summer school flyer (pdf: 2,5MB)

NEWS: Three babies have been born since the summer school took place: Bruno 10.12. (Uta and Marc), Seon 29.12. (Dagmar and Tony) and Cecilia 17.1. (Carin Nilsson)




Changes in climate, biodiversity, deposition of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur, and land use are affecting European ecosystems and the services they provide to society. The vulnerability of these services to such changes can now be assessed through modern scientific techniques.

The AVEC summer school presented the state of the art of such vulnerability assessments to the participants. In particular, the summer school focussed on:

  • the driving forces and processes of environmental change in Europe;

  • the evaluation of ecosystem services provided to society;

  • the full procedure of integrated vulnerability assessments, using multiple data sources, computer models, and a dialogue between scientists and stakeholders.
During the summer school, selected internationally known experts presented vulnerability assessment techniques and related issues. During the afternoons, working groups selected three European regions, e.g. Sweden, Spain and the Alps, to carry out example studies on two different scales with a tutor. They discussed implications of findings for actual European ecosystems and their services and compiled these in written reports.

The international summer school was a two-week course in the picturesque village of Peyresq. 37 participants from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and USA met for two weeks in Peyresq, France to listen to presentations from 24 speakers mainly from Europe. Furthermore they formed six working groups to study vulnerability in three European regions on two different scales. See the photo gallery to get an impression of the site and atmosphere. Here is the list (pdf) with all the participants, tutors and speakers.

The programme included two talks in the mornings, group working time in the afternoon and an aperitif talk in the late afternoon just before dinner. Summaries as well as pdf files of the presentations can also be found there. A short version of the programme can be downloaded here (pdf: 90KB). Furthermore, it may be mentioned that

  • participants were requested to present a poster on their own research activities in respect of vulnerability on the first two days.

  • an excursion to the Plateau de Valensole, Lac de Ste Croix, Les Salles sur Verdon and the Canyon du Verdon was organised for a full day.

  • practical tutorials concentrated on three European regions: Sweden, Spain and the Alps on two different scales which the participants could choose themselves.

A questionnaire was inclosed in the folder which the participants should return at the end of the summer school. The evaluation of the summer school as a whole as well as the different parts, e.g. setting, talks, working groups, excursion or free day was mostly rated as excellent or very good.

The summer school took place in Peyresq in the French Alps (Alpes de Haute-Provence) situated about 1500 m above sea level. The village is managed by the "Association Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc", which has assigned the village as a location for scientific and cultural meetings.

To get to Peyresq by public transport, the easiest method is to fly to Nice International Airport, and then take the picturesque train, called the "Chemins de Fer de Provence", which goes from Nice through the mountains to Digne, and you have to get off in Annot, where you will usually be met at the station. Note that the train leaves from the "Gare de Provence", which is about 10 minutes walk from the main station in Nice, Gare de Nice-Ville. More local travel information can be downloaded here (pdf: 140 KB).
[Please remember not to get off at a stop called "Peyresq", because this is in the river valley from where you would have to climb an hour uphill to the village!] By car it takes about 1 1/2 hours from Nice.

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
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Last updated 20.5.05 by Sabine Luetkemeier