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Eurosite – SER Summer school on ecological restoration

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21 participants from 13 countries attended the summer course in the management and restoration of European dry grasslands held by the MTA Centre for Ecological Research under the auspices of SER Europe and Eurosite. Most participants (11) were students (from bachelor to PhD) or young researchers, but 3 professors and 7 practitioners also joined the 2018 SER Europe-Eurosite Summer School from 20thAugust to 24thAugust. The countries represented include mainly Europe (Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Portugal), but also China, Ecuador and Brazil.

The programme included both theoretical aspects and practical issues related to the state, threats, management and restoration of dry grasslands with a special focus on Natura2000 areas in an intensive five day program. Starting with some introduction on August 20ththe greatest national holiday for Hungarians, the summer school opened with fireworks along the Danube in Budapest. The second day was dedicated to lectures on the present state of dry grasslands, the major threats, such as climate change and invasive species, and possible management – especially by seeding. Speaker Anna Varga talked about possibilities of including traditional knowledge into management and restoration, and Szabolcs Lengyel from Hungary summarized the responses of different animal groups to large-scale restoration in the Hortobágy. The lecture day was followed by three days of field trips in different types of dry grasslands characteristic to Hungary. Each day began with lectures that connected to the field visits. In the Fülöpháza Sand Dunes participants visited the remaining semi-natural grasslands with the last moving sand dunes, abandoned fields, some restoration sites and Exdrain, an intensive experiment to study the impact of climate change on vegetation. The most prominent programme based on feedback from participants was the visit to kurgans, ancient burial mounds in the Hortobágy region with loess grasslands in more or less degraded or restored state.