“Together on the way out of the biodiversity crisis” was the title of the Biodiversity Days 2023 from November 8th to 10th, which took place at BOKU Vienna.
In 9 sessions, different aspects of the biodiversity crisis and different actors were addressed. This breadth of topics was only possible through the first-time cooperation between 5 organizing institutions. ABOL would like to thank the Institute for Hydrobiology and Water Management (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna), the Austrian Biodiversity Network (University of Continuing Education Krems), NOBIS – Network of Biological Systematics Austria, and the ZooBot – Zoological-Botanical Society in Austria for the successful collaboration. The success is reflected not only in the fact that the event was sold out with more than 200 participants on site (many more took part online), but above all in the lively discussions and solution-oriented approaches of the individual sessions.
The conference opened with a very thrilling video message from Jane Goodall: an appeal to stand up for nature and biodiversity – just like she did. The morning keynotes by Franz Essl – “Green transformation – please together with nature” and by Alice Vadrot – “Biodiversity policy in the tradeoff between scientific evidence and diversity of values” – as well as the panel discussion with BM Leonore Gewessler and representatives from the Science and the Austrian Biodiversity Council can be viewed on the BOKU Vienna YouTube channel.
The first morning was dedicated to the ecosystem water, which is now one of the most threatened ecosystems. In addition to presenting the dramatic situation of many aquatic species, practical protection and restoration projects were also presented and possible solutions were outlined in a joint discussion. The afternoon was dedicated, on the one hand, to taxonomic experts in teaching and research, and, on the other hand, to the importance of platforms and associations in biodiversity research. Possibilities and approaches were presented to counteract the loss of knowledge of species among the population and the decline in specialists in various species groups. As part of the evening event, various specialist associations and platforms were able to present themselves and network with posters over drinks and snacks.
The morning of the second day was filled with lectures by young scientists on a wide range of topics from biological systematics, ecology, biodiversity and nature conservation. The Young Researcher Prize was awarded by a jury at the evening event for the best lectures and posters. The afternoon was dedicated to the topics of monitoring in times of biodiversity crisis and the responsibility of science in times of multiple crises. Both sessions featured long and exciting discussions, but in the end the time was still too short. The demand for an Austrian biodiversity center was not only raised in these two sessions. The creation and management of high-quality biodiversity data and their integration at national and international levels has been repeatedly discussed as an urgent goal.
The presentation of the annual barometer of Austrian biodiversity policy by the Biodiversity Council opened the last day of the event and led to the panel discussion entitled “Dialogue with Politics”. Conclusion of this year’s barometer continues the trends of the Biodiversity Council’s previous evaluations: “too little and too slow”. At the political level, the need for action has already been recognized and initial goals have been defined – but it has also been clearly shown that the implementation is a major challenge due to the framework conditions of practical policy.
The event concluded with sessions on communication of biodiversity sciences and ecosystem services, with further thematic interfaces between science, nature conservation and society.
The conference further strengthened the biodiversity landscape in Austria and networked it in many ways!
We would like to thank our sponsors, the co-organizers and everyone who contributed to the successful event!