Last week the Endangered Landscapes Programme hosted its second Annual Grantee Meeting and, like many others this year, we did our best to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of an in-person meeting at one of the project sites, as we did in Romania last year, we chose to host an online meeting over three half-days. While video conferencing can never be quite a good enough replacement for face-to face contact, one benefit of hosting the workshop online was the number of attendees we were able to invite. At an in-person workshop we would expect around 20 grantees (with numbers limited by travel costs and room capacity), whereas this time we were delighted to have over 60 people who are involved in ELP projects join us over the course of the three days, in addition to several members of our Oversight and Selection Panel.
Communicating landscape-scale work
To keep things engaging, we asked the eight Implementation Projects to prepare a short video in advance of the meeting, for them to share a major activity over the last 12 months. They did not disappoint! While the videos varied in their style, each of them enabled us all to feel more connected to the exciting work being carried out on the ground. You can find two of these project update videos below, from the Danube Delta project in Romania, Ukraine and Moldova, and the Gökova Bay project in Turkey.
Georgina Mayhew and Nancy Ockendon from the ELP management team also praised the projects’ efforts over the past year, thanking them for sharing their insightful communications via news stories, and contributing baseline data which will be used to monitor the impacts of restoration work.
From project to programme impacts
Over the course of the workshop, projects shared the challenges they were facing, from seed germination to engaging stakeholders, with a dedicated session on the impact of Covid-19 on project activities. While most coronavirus impacts were (perhaps unsurprisingly) negative, such as economic instability and difficulty reaching local communities, some projects have managed to identify creative ways to deliver positive change – from hosting online workshops to delivering care packages for vulnerable communities.
We also hosted discussions that went beyond what our funded projects are delivering on the ground, including: how to best facilitate learning and expertise between projects, and create a supportive ‘community of practice’; how the portfolio of ELP projects can be used to inspire policy change at the local, national and international scale, and; how the arts can complement the scientific focus of the programme by helping reconnect people with these cherished landscapes.
As we have witnessed in every workshop so far with ELP grantees, the group were engaged throughout and provided insightful, thoughtful discussions on a range of restoration-related issues, and their openness continued to strengthen the trust between them. We are immensely proud of all our funded projects and look forward to sharing their continued progress over the next 12 months, and beyond.
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