PROJECT The European Mink Centre – a model system of activities in the field of nature protection in the COVID-19 pandemic
One of the areas most affected by the restrictions resulting from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic is nature conservation. These limitations apply in particular to the transfer of knowledge, practical education, exchange of experience, networking and popularization of the idea of protecting little-known species, critically endangered with extinction, carried out using traditional methods, and force the search for new methods and means of action. The main objective of the project “European Mink Centre” is to develop and implement effective methods and tools for passive ex situ protection of one of the most endangered species of mammals – the European mink Mustela lutreola, by creating a virtual European Mink Centre. The centre is to be an internet platform, acting as an information hub and think tank based on modern digital solutions, securing international cooperation and promoting the protection of the species in the conditions of epidemic restrictions. The project is to contribute not only to maintaining cooperation and educational activity in the indicated scope, but also to improving the quality, range and efficiency of the implemented activities, thanks to the use of digital techniques, electronic media and communication, as well as the cataloguing and digitization of bibliographic and museum resources and made them publicly available via online database. The project focuses on the conservation biology of the European mink as a model and flagship species. Although this species was present in Poland in the mid-twentieth century, knowledge about it and the alarming situation in which it is currently found is scarce among the public. Meanwhile, the European mink is listed in the Convention on the Conservation of Species of Wild European Flora and Fauna and Their Habitats (Annex II), Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora (Annex II and IV, priority species), the IUCN Red List (CR – critically endangered species), Polish Red List (EX – locally extinct species), Polish Red Book (EXP – extinct species in Poland) and Carpathian List of Threatened Species (CR – critically endangered) and requires immediately undertake urgent conservation measures, including soft measures of ex situ protection, including educational, popularizing, documentation, planning and networking activities. In addition to low social awareness, a serious problem in the protection of the European mink is the low research interest in the species (the rate of disappearance of the natural populations of the European mink significantly exceeds the activity in acquiring new knowledge about this species), as well as the lack of conservation of the most valuable, in terms of genetic diversity, populations in Russia (the European mink is a game species in this country, and only the endemic Caucasian subspecies – M. l. turovi is legally protected).
- Promotion of the idea of protecting the critically endangered European mink Mustela lutreola.
- Creation of a publicly available Internet platform “European Mink Centre” in Polish, German and English, dedicated to international cooperation in the field of conservation biology of the European mink.
- Conducting and developing cooperation between partners from Poland and Germany in the field of nature protection (know-what and know-how knowledge transfer, exchange of experience, expert support, mutual promotion of undertaken activities).
- Cataloguing and digitizing bibliographic and museum resources devoted to the European mink.
|Green Federation “GAIA” association (Lead Partner)
|Rewilding Oder Delta e.V. (Project Partner)|
|Polish Society for Conservation Genetics LUTREOLA (Project Partner)|
March 2021 – August 2022