On 3 October, the DiverSEA project – Integrated Observation, Mapping, Monitoring and Prediction for Functional Biodiversity of Coastal Seas (DiverSEA) – kicked off in Porto. Funded by the Horizon Europe programme, this four-year project, which will leave a legacy far beyond its timeframe, focuses on monitoring and mapping coastal marine ecosystems through the development of new methodologies and a holistic approach. A challenge that brought together a multidisciplinary team made up of 19 institutions from 13 countries, where science and big data analysis merge to help policy makers, while at the same time focuses on increasing citizen science, a primary goal of DiverSEA.
In Europe, around 50 per cent of the population lives less than 50km from the sea, and this population is constantly growing. Coastal ecosystems are under high levels of anthropogenic pressure, which challenges their sustainability and resilience in the short and medium term. Coastal systems play a fundamental role for human society, providing numerous goods and services, and being essential for food security, energy production and climate change mitigation. This conflict between increasing anthropogenic pressures and the concomitant increase in our dependence on these ecosystems has led to a shift in the way we assess and seek to manage these regions, from a strictly economic vision to one that focuses on the link between social well-being and ocean sustainability, promoting adaptive management of dynamic and complex systems.
The EU is now looking for methodologies for the integrated management of ecosystems through the definition of objectives of good ecological or environmental status and the orientation of ecological assessments from the structural level of the community to the functional assessment of the ecosystem, what we call Ecosystem-Based Management. It has therefore become essential to map and monitor systems, identifying key factors and feedback mechanisms in the dynamics, integrating all the information in order to understand and be able to design the complexity of the system. In essence, changing from the traditional approach that ignored ecosystem dynamics, generating fragmented information, to a transdisciplinary approach, integrating knowledge from different areas, deciphering ecosystem interactions and thus enabling more accurate predictive analyses.
More news will be coming soon, with the launch of the website and the sharing of new information. We recommend that everyone follow DiverSEA with interest, as it is not only a project of enormous relevance but, above all, it seeks to make citizens active contributors to science.