Welcome to the INTERFASE Team

The INTERFASE team (Research Group on Inclusive Governance and Territorial and Coastal-Marine Sustainability) is a collaborative transdisciplinary team of researchers and external collaborators from different academic disciplines, whose core is at the Geography Department of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)The activities of the group started in 1992 by Dr. Françoise Breton. The group has a long established reputation for delivering excellent research, particularly with regard to studies on coastal management and environmental issues. The group has closely collaborated with institutions such as the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the UNEP/MAP. One of its main achievements has been the coordination of the FP7 PEGASO project, which designed integrated policies for the coastal, marine and maritime realms of the Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins.

Currently, the research team is cordinated by two principal investigators: Antònia Casellas, with research experience in Johns Hopkins University, University of Toronto and Indiana University among others, she has a PhD on Urban Planning and Policy Development from the Rutgers University of USA; and Eduard Ariza, with a Fulbright post-doc in the Florida International University, he is a Ramón y Cajal researcher with a PhD in Marine Sciences from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

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The INTERFASE promotes researches in analysis, planning and integrated management of coastal zones, natural resources and open areas (protected and rural areas, etc.) from the study of socio-environmental changes in space and time and the sustainability of environmental and spatial policies. Since its foundation, the research group develops an intense work of supporting to administrations and stakeholders in the study and integrated assessment of spatial problems in areas of contact or interface between society and environment: analysis and management of coastal and marine zones, socio-environmental problems linked to human activities and processes of land use change, planning and social adaptation to climate change, land and ecosystems accounting, ecosystem services, cooperation networks in regional, trans-statal and cross-border areas, spatial processes of migrations and climate change.

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Experts in Arctic communities meet in Barcelona

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The UAB’s CER-ARCTIC Research Centre organized the past 24-27 April 2018 in Barcelona the 1st ARCTIC research Week, with the participation of renowned experts in Arctic communities. The week began by a CER-ARCTIC internal meeting, followed by 2 days of visit to the Garraf and Barcelona Coast, and ended with the First International Conference on “Indigenous Peoples in cold Climates” on the 27th April, , an event for the promotion and dissemination of scientific activities on the Arctic in Barcelona. 

 

1st ARCTIC RESEARCH WEEK

CER-ARCTIC Meeting

At the 24th April meeting, researchers and collaborators of CER-ARCTIC discussed the preparation of potential research proposals with other Arctic institutions. They also discussed the organization by the UAB’s ARCTIC Research Centre, of several international conferences and CER ARCTIC meetings in 2018 and 2019, with the aim of strengthening the collaboration with the international network of Arctic centres and other polar research institutions.

The Arctic Research Week began the 24th April with at the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona, with the attendance of visiting researchers Tanja Joona (Arctic Centre of Lapland University in Finland) and Níels Einarsson (Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland). The meeting helped to strength the collaboration among the CER-ARCTIC researchers and collaborators. Several main research lines were identified to prioritize the work at the Centre:

  • Ocean management and governance (fisheries, quotas, co-management, whales images and whale watch, MPAs and sanctuaries, tourism, cruise ship impacts…).
  • Paleosols, climates and landscape, soil biodiversity, thawing of permafrost and the impacts on people.
  • Archaeology and ethnology in the relations between marine mammals and local communities.
  • Synergies between climate change and global change, comparing the south and the north, connecting local communities.
  • Indigenous rights on territory and animals, gender and youth questions, facing societal and cultural transformations
  • Arctic representation in the EU and global institutions.

FIELD TRIPS

On April 25th and 26th, the events of the Arctic Research Week continued with the organization of visits to the harbours of Vilanova i la Geltrú, but also in Sitges and the Garraf coast, where have been made repeated whale sightings of the specie Baleanoptera physalus, the common Rorqual, connecting the Mediterranean with the Arctic.

In Barcelona, a visit organized in the harbour allowed to meet different fishermen and take contact with Cristina Caparrós for further collaborations on fishermen‘s heritage. As well, a number of interviews were programmed to explore the role and function of women in the fisheries, comparing the Mediterranean and the Arctic. The visits where coordinated by the Director of CER-ARCTIC Françoise Breton, and featured with the participation of visiting researchers Níels Einarsson and Tanja Joona.

First International Conference “Indigenous Peoples in Cold Climates” as closing event of the 1st Arctic Research Week

The UAB’s Arctic Research and Studies Centre CER-ARCTIC, in collaboration with the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland, the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Finland, and the Sustainable Development Advisory Board of Catalonia (CADS), organised the 27th April the First International Conference on “Indigenous Peoples in Cold Climates”. The event took place at the Doctor Melcior Colet Museum and Centre for Sports Studies in Barcelona (Carrer de Buenos Aires 56).

The conference focused on experiences in social realities, marine and land rights, the “commons” and the relationships with nature among indigenous communities and other communities living in the Arctic. According to the organisers, “there are still many aspects about the Arctic which remain unknown in Western societies, and it is an honour to give visibility to those who during centuries have lived in these cold climates, and who often do not have a say in climate change and the global impacts affecting their land”.

The event was attended by the Vice-Rector of Research and Transfer of the UAB, Dr. Armand Sánchez, and they participated, among others, guest speakers included renowned experts such as Isabel Pont, member of the Sustainable Development Advisory Board of Catalonia (CADS), Government of Catalonia; Montserrat Ventura, Head of the Social and Cultural Anthropology Department of the UAB; Tanja Joona, researcher at the University of Lapland in Finland; Alfredo Prieto and Jorge Gibbons of the University of Magallanes in Chile; and Níels Einarsson, Director of the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland.

The weekly magazine ‘El Temps’ covered the conference and published an article.

At the end of the international conference, a lunch for the guest speakers was organized by the Stefansson Arctic Institute and closing the events of the 1st Arctic Research Week.

Interfase-UAB team has participated in the ESPON seminar ‘Transforming Territorial Thinking Through Digitalisation”

Interfase-UAB team has participated in the ESPON seminar focused on ‘Transforming Territorial Thinking Through Digitalisation”, representing two ongoing projects: ESPON 2020 Database Portal and ESPON GRETA. The seminar was held on the 6th and 7th of December in Tallinn, and was organised in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the European Union in the framework of the ESPON2020 Cooperation programme.

The seminar was a meeting point for policy-makers, stakeholders, practitioners, scientists and other experts who provided new insights and discussions on territorial evidence in policy-making addressing key topics  regarding demographic development, labour market, economic diversification and resilience, urban-rural linkages, governance and strategy building, territorial cooperation, spatial planning and governance. The seminar started with an open discussion on the Territorial development in the digital era with Paul Timmers, Anna Piperal, Jonas Onland and Martin Brynskov as panelists. Several questions raised like:

  • Which  mechanisms will work for everyone to facilitate the digital transition? Are there global standards applicable at any place?
  • Is the combination of front-runners and capacity-building a solution? Should this be the basis for the cohesion foundations?
  • Is digitalisation part of the solution? We don’t have the right policies yet for digital transition, we need the instruments. This requires proactive policies and a new public governance to provide opportunities to co-create. We need to build networks that favour cascading capabilities.

Hy Dao (University of Geneva)

Later, Hy Dao (lead partner from the University of Geneve) had the chance to present the ESPON 2020 Database Portal which aims to provide data and the structure that can be used by ESPON projects but also by other end-users. The main idea is to provide relevant and accessible data produced by ESPON projects or used in the building of indicators.



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In the afternoon, the new ESPON Applied Research  projects were briefly introduced. Here, Gemma García-Blanco (from project leader Tecnalia) presented the  general overview of ESPON GRETA‘s approach to address the key policy questions.

Roughly, GRETA aims to develop a comprehensive knowledge base for enhancing green infrastructure to benefit territorial development in different types of European regions and cities.


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Key policies addressed by GRETA

Key policy questions

We also had time for meeting partners of ongoing projects and to exchange experiences, especially those based on developing evidence-based policy recommendations.

It was nice and inspiring meeting new and already well-known faces!

Health and Quality of Life in Urban Areas

The second in a series of Synthesis Reports (SR) produced by FP7 URBAN-NEXUS project addresses the importance and urgency of integrating health and quality of life in urban areas. The Synthesis Report considers research, mainly European, background material from a variety of sources including existing research evidence, and case studies from cities and projects results undertaken at EU level. The information was collected from the URBAN-NEXUS consortium, the strategic partners and a wider network of contacts. The SR on Health and Quality of Life was shaped by the SGR INTERFASE, research group of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and member of the FP7 URBAN-NEXUS consortium.

This report should serve as basis to inform an evolving dialogue, fostering integrated approaches to urban sustainability that become intrinsic to all decision-making processes and partnership activities related to health and quality of life , and linking it with the other priority research areas being addressed in the URBAN-NEXUS project (http://www.urban-nexus.eu/).

Urban-Nexus added value

The resulting analysis of state of the art on Health and Quality of Life is described in the Synthesis Report, mainly focused on health aspects in cities, considering quality of air and green areas, noise and social aspects. This speech was enriched along the Dialogue Café, stressing the focus to the society and the public space, as well as highlighting the importance of sharing knowledge, in particular in local planning.

Urban Nexus Workflow

 

The challenge

The challenge of urban health and quality of life is to find solutions tackling environment and health problems together; it is essential to meet a balance between all policies and developments, and integrate the solutions into future urban planning.

A holistic approach of urban health and quality of life should consider the analysis of:

A holistic approach of urban health and quality of life

Project Reports

- Synthesis Report

- Follow-Up Report

Europe is losing seasonal sea ice faster than perennial

Walruses, belugas and narwhals are the most affected marine mammal species

Credit: National Geographic 1) Sergey Gorshkov, 2) Nansen Weber, 3) and 7) Paul Nicklen, 4) Florian Schulz, 5) Kaido Haagen, 8) Brian Skerry; IUCN 6) Morten Joergensen; 9) IFAW.

According to the preliminary results of an ongoing research where Joan Parera and Raquel Ubach are developing a new indicator for monitoring sea ice extent, seasonal sea ice is declining faster than perennial Parera proposes to adapt the IceMap250 algorithm to European sea regions. The use of MODIS optical and infrared imagery allows sea ice extent mapping at a higher resolution (250 m at nadir) than that of the commonly used satellite data, thus enabling a finer vulnerability mapping in the European sea regions to determine where conservation measures should be prioritized.

The continued loss of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere due to global warming poses a threat on biota and human activities, evidencing the necessity of efficient sea ice monitoring tools. To prove the indicator’s utility and applicability, a vulnerability assessment has been carried out for nine sea ice associated marine mammal species, following the cumulative impact mapping methodology. Same preliminary results rank species vulnerability, being walruses, belugas and narwhals the most affected by the loss of sea ice.

Impact has been found to be larger north of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and in the central Barents Sea, highlighting the need for conservation measures in these areas.

Key messages from the preliminary results

1) Seasonal sea ice is declining faster than perennial sea ice in the European sea regions. Perennial sea ice refers to the extent of the ice cover which is stable all year long, i.e. the minimum extent (September), while seasonal sea ice is the variable portion of the ice cover, i.e. the difference between the maximum extent (March) and the minimum. Contrary to the observed tendencies, sea ice in the whole Northern Hemisphere is declining faster in September.

 2) walruses, belugas and narwhals are the most affected by the loss of sea ice FROM the nine analysed marine mammal species. The impact caused by this loss is especially severe in the northern coast of Svalbard and the central Barents Sea.

 3) A new map synthesis approach has allowed the minimization of classification errors and the effects of atmospheric conditions. Together with other changes concerning the classification method, the modified algorithm has achieved systematically better total accuracies than the original IceMap250.

Flows

CumulativeImpact_MapSeaIce_PresenceLikelihood_Map

The UAB Opens New Arctic Research Centre

The UAB inaugurated its new CER ARCTIC research centre, unique in the whole of Spain in this area and innovative in research that is respectful with and to local Arctic communities. Directed by UAB professor and INTERFASE team researcher Françoise Breton, the centre will focus particularly on the global changes and their impact on the local population.

CER-ARCTIC

The Arctic is currently undergoing political, economic, social and environmental changes which very likely will be irreversible. These global processes have an impact on the societies of the region, the daily lives of the population and on their welfare.

The UAB’s new CER ARCTIC Research and Studies Centre will generate cutting-edge research and provide scientific assessment as a way of contributing to the quality of life of Arctic populations, as well as to the sustainability of their environment. Based on a multidisciplinary approach, the research centre will study rights and social justice issues in relation to the use of resources, conduct comparative studies of the Arctic and other regions, such as the Mediterranean, and promote sustainability and governance to foster well-being and human development in the region.

The UAB’s new CER ARCTIC Research and studies Centre, presented by the director of the centre Françoise Breton, has included the attendance of renowned researchers such as Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, professor in Ecological Economics at the University of Iceland; Níels Einarsson, director of the Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland; and Melody Brown Burkins, associate director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding Dartmouth College, USA, on behalf of the Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College. Rune Fjellheim, director of the Sami Parliament in Norway, also participated in the event.

Among its objectives, the CER ARCTIC will conduct comparative studies of the Arctic, viewed as a sea surrounded by a diversity of countries and cultures, and the Mediterranean. Both share a high level of vulnerability to global changes, not only climatic ones, but also political, economic and cultural changes, with negative effects for the indigenous and local communities.

“The new centre will bridge the Arctic with the Mediterranean, Africa and Antarctica, given that all these regions are related and face similar changes”, says director of the centre Françoise Breton. “There are global phenomena such as tourism and urban changes which greatly affect local populations. That is why CER ARCTIC will conduct Responsible Research, with priority research lines which will be agreed upon with the people living in these regions”, Breton continues. She points to the fact that the large super-powers increasingly see the Arctic as a “warehouse of resources”, more than “a territory in which people live”.

The main research subjects of the centre will be the human dimension of climate change; the dependence on natural resources and resilience of local populations in the face of challenging environments; the appropriation of land, marine territory and resources by big companies, the question of the “commons” and traditional local management, human development of communities and their habitats from a socio-ecological viewpoint; environmental history, transformations in fishing and aquaculture; the role of cetacean and other marine mammals in the socio-ecological systems; the effects of globalisation, such as the increase of nature tourism and whale watching, the exploration for oil and the opening of new maritime routes for freight transport and cruise ships; cultural, archaeological and anthropological heritage related to different value systems; the governance of the Arctic Ocean, its resources and human heritage; the impact of Western perceptions on the identity and ways of life of small local communities; the conservation of wildlife; local and indigenous knowledge based on experience and oral transmission, and the survival of more than 40 regional languages.

In the first phase, the centre will include six researchers from different UAB departments and four affiliated researchers from the University of Tromsø, Norway, the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland, and the University of Iceland. The number of researchers will gradually increase with the incorporation of new members.

Gestionant l’exposició al soroll a Europa.

La contaminació acústica representa un alt risc per a la salut humana i mediambiental. Aquesta comunicació presenta les dades actualitzades sobre el nombre de persones exposades a la contaminació acústica ambiental a Europa, així com un nou resum de les mesures que s’utilitzen en els Estats membres per a la gestió del soroll. El trànsit per carretera segueix sent, de llarg, la font més important de soroll ambiental, amb almenys 100 milions de persones exposades a alts nivells de soroll del trànsit que superen els valors referència de molèstia per soroll de la Unió Europea.

Poster Resum Soroll a Europa

Missatges principals:

  • La contaminació acústica continua sent un important problema de salut ambiental a Europa;
  • El trànsit rodat és la principal font de soroll ambiental, s’estima que 100 milions de persones estan afectades per nivells nocius. El soroll dels ferrocarrils, aeroports i la indústria també són fonts importants;
  • Els plans d’acció de gestió del soroll establerts pels Estats membres inclouen una àmplia gamma de mesures per a la millora i recuperació de la qualitat acústica. És a les ciutats on aquestes mesures se centren principalment en la gestió del trànsit per carretera i inclouen la utilització als carrers de paviment sonoreductor, la millora del trànsit i la introducció dels límits de velocitat més baixos;
  • El Programa General d’Acció de la Unió en matèria de Medi Ambient (7EAP) estableix l’objectiu que el 2020 la contaminació acústica a la UE disminueixi considerablement, apropant-se als nivells recomanats per l’Organització Mundial de la Salut (OMS).

Anàlisi de les mesures incloses en els plans d’acció de la Directiva 2002/49/CE per font de soroll i tipologia de mesura.

Action_plans

SSS! Setmana sense soroll, del 24 al 30 d’abril

Interfase UAB col·labora amb la 1a Setmana Sense Soroll.

La 1a Setmana Sense Soroll neix amb la voluntat d’arribar a aglutinar totes aquelles iniciatives promogudes, tant en l’àmbit públic com privat, sota un mateix lema ‘Silenci si us plau’ i uns mateixos objectius, entre els quals cal destacar:

  • Conscienciar a la ciutadania del problema de la contaminació acústica, especialment en l’àmbit urbà, dels seus efectes, i les seves possibles solucions. Fer veure a la ciutadania que n’és part del problema i part de la solució.
  • Treballar amb col·lectius específics, com els centres escolars, on el soroll pot dificultar l’aprenentatge.
  • Donar a conèixer, tant a la ciutadania com a les administracions, noves eines de gestió i control.
  • Impulsar la col·laboració entre administracions, amb diferents responsabilitats i/o competències en la matèria, per optimitzar recursos i poder oferir una solució més ràpida i eficaç.

Land recycling in Europe

The EEA has recently published a report entitled “Land recycling in Europe“, which presents approaches to measuring the extent and impacts of redevelopment and densification of previously developed land.

Chapter 2, ‘The extent of land recycling and densification’, was developed largely under the
ETC/ULS 2015 task 1.8.2.8 ‘Use of Urban Atlas (UA) and Corine Land Cover (CLC) data to calculate land
recycling and densification’, by Roger Milego (UAB), Rastislav Stanik (EEA) and Geertrui Louwagie (EEA).

Land_recycling

On average, land recycling has increased in Europe but the levels remain low compared to land take, the report shows. Based on Copernicus satellite data, land recycling as a share of total land consumption across EEA member and cooperating countries (EEA-39) has increased from about 2.0-2.2 % in 1990-2000 to about 2.7-2.9 % in 2006-2012. However, the rates vary considerably across countries.

The report is fully available in PDF following this link.

NILS project – Research stage in the Arctic to study the vulnerability of whales’ species and the whales hunting local communities

Brief Description:

The stage has been done by Dra. Françoise Breton from INTERFASE research group of Geography Department and ICTA institute of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), in collaboration with Dr. Svein Jentoft and MARA research group from the University of Tromsø (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway). Other strong colaborations have been established during the development of research stage with the University of Svalbard (UNIS), and the Svalbard Museum and her Director Tora Hultgreen.

The research stage has allowed to carry out a first approach to the study of vulnerability of whales and the effects to local communities related with the whales’ hunting in the Arctic Region of Norway from a socio-environmental approach (integrating environmental, historical, political and ethnological perspectives).

The research work done in 2015, focuses on whale species vulnerability. Fieldwork methodology on whales ‘perception by local fishermen communities and other relevant stakeholders allows us to discuss traditional whaling, within the artisanal fishery cycle.

This activity is important to sustain local coastal communities inhabiting in extreme cold climate in the Arctic.

During the research it has also present a test to map and model whales’ vulnerability. Both approaches help to understand the place of whales in the Barents Sea. This research focusing on socioecological approach to Minke whale (Balaenoptera acurostrata) in Lofoten islands (Norway) allows to meet a number strong recommendations to the Marine Spatial Plans.

BarentsSeaMap

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Acusti.CAT, the first Catalan Congress on Acoustics

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With more than 70 speakers, 25 entities highly involved in this topic and more than 200 experts working in the field, Acusti.CAT will be an opportunity to debate, share and understand all the topics related to environmental noise. The Congress is going to be held in Sabadell on 28+29/04/2016.

The initial conference will be given by the European expert Colin Nugent, Project manager for Noise at the European Environment Agency, and 15 challenges and dilemmas will be shared and discussed after that among all the participants. Discussion topics will cover from soundscape in cities of the future and networks of sensors measuring noise and its integration into the smart cities projects, to topics such as the strategic noise maps and action plans as useful management tools to cope with environmental noise and neighbourhood noise evaluation and mediation.

The SGR-Interfase group of the UAB – Geography Department will participate in Acusti.CAT and will discuss the challenge 01 together with other experts in the field.

More information about the congress is available in the following page:http://www.congresacusti.cat/#/inici