Action plan for a privately managed Biodiversity center
The Genal Field Station (GFS project in a few slides), rented since May 2017 to Benarrabá municipal council, is dedicated to the study of the aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity of the Genal River and the Western Betic Sierras, a biodiversity hotspot within Spain and Andalusia (several adjoining natural and national parks).
We have created a laboratory with high quality optical material to work especially on the knowledge development and dissemination of its invertebrate fauna.
We’ll work in order to favor firsthand observation and experience not available any other way.
Information and awareness
Intended for the general public
Information and awareness favoring the participation and inclusion of all visitors to the center, with complete sets of publications in Spanish, French and English on the biodiversity of the Serrania de Ronda, and explanations on the various projects carried out at the BFS itself. Information on interesting routes in the Genal Valley will be offered to promote observation of the fauna, flora and fungi (thanks to optical equipment, you can even observe bacteria and other microscopic creatures such as algae). Note that the village of Benarrabá itself has a rural hotel, a hostel, several rural houses and a car park, infrastructures that receive visitors throughout the year.
Environmental education workshops
Intended for public schools
Environmental education workshops which will help foster an environmental culture and raise appreciation for biodiversity among local students. We will especially focus on secondary school students across the region. Natural resource is a sector that can offer a wide range of employment and career opportunities (primary sector, rural tourism). The goal is to encourage interest in science, with teaching and research activities both in the field and in the laboratory, all following a basic scheme with presentation of standard protocols, data collection in the field, analysis of samples in the laboratory, and supported by information and communication technologies (ICT) for the capture of digital images-, interpretation of data and debate-conclusion. In the case of primary school students, the methodology will be mainly based on the observation of small living beings under magnifying glasses using video-projection and the development of related pedagogical activities.
Environmental activities at the Genal
Intended for the general public
To offer environmental activities for the general public, as an addition to existing rural tourism activities in the Valley of Genal, thinking in particular of the inhabitants of the Serrania de Ronda, which will find in the center a new place in the region to learn about nature from a different point of view. The experience of zooming 10 to 50 times any small invertebrate or plant fragment rarely leaves us indifferent. Video-projection made possible by trinocular microscopes will build good memories to share in group or with the famil
Technical conferences on taxonomy
Intended for naturalists and technical staff
The organization of technical conferences on taxonomy intended for naturalists, technical staff working in natural resource management and anyone interested in learning to identify specific groups of species (such as butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and crickets, ants, ladybugs and endless invertebrate families) and deepen knowledge of biodiversity. These workshops will be held in collaboration with experts or societies dedicated to the study of biodiversity. Our association already has a trajectory in this field with the organization of some 59 workshops since 2007 ; however, the – so far – lack of adequate optical media has greatly hindered organizing events dealing with invertebrates. Therefore, the provision of an equipped laboratory will allow organizing numerous natural history workshops that have been practically impossible to carry out until now in the Serrania de Ronda in particular and in Andalusia in general.
Local one-day events on biodiversity
Intended at local entrepreneurs and administration
The organization of local one-day events on biodiversity as a tool for rural development and aimed at entrepreneurs in the area (craftsmen, managers cottages) and local administration (environment technicians at councils) who want to expand knowledge of the Genal Valley and give added value to their products and land value. From the AEA El Bosque Animado we have collaborated on several occasions with the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park in similar actions with good participation.
Group of local environmental volunteers
Intended at local volunteers
Support groups dedicated to environmental volunteerism, thanks to a dynamic center and a regular schedule of volunteer activities. Practical activities of local environmental volunteer projects will be complemented with others more focused on the discovery and observation of living beings. In addition, we can cite the Andarríos program, dedicated to the conservation of rivers in Andalusia, in which our association participates since 2009. Existing groups in the Serranía de Ronda region will be able to take advantage of the facilities to deepen in the analysis of their samples. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that each of the surrounding natural parks (PN Alcornocales, PN Sierra de Grazalema, PN Sierra de Las Nieves – all with at least some territory under the jurisdiction of municipalities of the Serrania de Ronda) have set up a “Volunteering Network in the Park” who may be interested in the occasional use of the laboratory to organize group visits or, more regularly, if a volunteer carries out a biodiversity research project in one of the parks. It is worth clarifying that AEA Bosque Animado has coordinated several environmental volunteering campaigns in natural parks and fostered the approach of volunteers to scientific study topics as a way to better understand the problems of natural spaces management.
Intended at naturalists and local volunteers
Organization of a biodiversity marathon, also known as Bioblitz. This is a citizen science event aimed at establishing an inventory of the species of a specific geographical area for a limited amount of time with the collaboration of naturalists and people from the general public. This methodology encourages the participation of citizens and the dissemination of the values of the environment studied. In Andalusia, following the initiative of the Natural History Society of Cadiz, conservationist NGOs organize/participate since 2013 in a Bioblitz that takes place on the World Biodiversity Day (May 22). These events have had a notable impact in terms of participation and results. The Genal Valley is located in the vicinity of several protected natural areas and areas of great interest to explore. An equipped laboratory will be important for any Bioblitz organized nearby, with the ability to scan samples and the capacity to share with experts who live far away. In addition, it should be noted that AEA El Bosque Animado has participated and organized several such events and has plans to hold this type of event annually in the Genal Valley.
Naturalists-in-residence: academic/university studies on biodiversity
Intended at students in biological and environmental sciences
The performance of local scientific studies by students who want to carry out their academic work on the biodiversity of the Genal Valley and the Western Betic Sierras, by using the material available at the center. The Genal and its surroundings (adding the Sierra Bermeja to the list of Protected Natural Spaces listed above) have the greatest ecological potential of the province of Malaga; however, it still lacks faunal inventories and distribution studies for numerous invertebrate groups. A fully-equipped laboratory would promote such basic and necessary studies, especially among college students coursing Degrees in Science Biology or Environmental Science in the nearest universities (agreements), and encourage collaborations with academic experts. We also aim at building relationships relationships with university professors and foreign students with an interest in Mediterranean ecosystems (we have already established positive preliminary contacts with Dutch, German and English entomologists).
Naturalists-in-residence: biodiversity studies
Intended at Andalusian entomologists and foreign specialists
Entomologists, not affiliated to official academic centers, have restricted access to optical instruments. One example is the case of partners and / or collaborators in scientific projects such as the “Network of Observers of Dragonflies in Andalusia ” (ROLA) and the project “Brankimaquis” on crustaceans living in temporary ponds of Andalusia. Cooperation agreements with several Andalusian natural history societies are underway to encourage the use of facilities, especially to allow the digitization of private collections of insects (which often have a scientific interest of first order) and their inclusion in international databases 8such as Observation.org).
Foreign specialists, mainly from northern Europe, who are attracted by the interest of the Serrania de Ronda to carry out their history of nature studies. One worth mentioning is the collaboration of affiliates from several European societies dedicated to the study of dragonflies with the ROLA project, and the ongoing collaboration with researchers from Naturalis (Holland) about orthoptera insects.
Bank of high–definition images
Intended at scientists and naturalists
Participation in a bank of high–definition images of Ibero-Maghrebi endemic species that will be globally accessible via the Internet. From the BFS we can provide images of several endemic species, which will encourage the collaboration of students and volunteers to digitize specimens with stacking photography techniques. The association has partners and collaborators, photographers and professional entomologists, dedicated to this type of photography. We are currently developing an imaging protocol.