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The European Program of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI Europe) was established in 2007 in response to the research priorities described in the „Global Change and Mountain Regions” (GLOCHAMORE) Research Strategy. The MRI-EUrope network aims at initiating, coordinating and enhancing activities on the priority topics of this Strategy in mountain regions of Europe.
In 2011, the network connects more than 2’400 mountain researchers and includes the Science for the Carpathians (S4C) initiative and the South Eastern European Mountain Research Network (SEEmore).
Mountain Research Initiative
c/o University of Bern
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Erlachstr. 9a, Trakt 3
In 2007, MRI took another approach focusing on scientists regardless of their affiliation with place and funding. The 2nd meeting (Zurich, February 2007) made no assumptions about an ideal structure for implementation but asked researchers how they wished to proceed. With almost 100 participants from 21 countries, this meeting ultimately launched the "global change research network for Europe" subsequently renamed MRI-Europe. MRI-Europe was defined as an interdisciplinary, purpose-driven network aiming at the implementation of the GLOCHAMORE Research Strategy in European mountains by capitalizing on the research capacity and resources in Europe.
The same year, MRI-Europe organized a 3rd meeting in Innsbruck focusing on interdisciplinarity in international research collaborations and potential EU funding instruments. Applying tools like the “research market” and “coffee table discussions” based on the open space method, the work approach of these early networking meetings clearly differed from normal science workshops.
In 2008, MRI Europe received an impetus when the MRI and the Institute for Mountain Research: Man and Environment (IGF) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences started a joint implementation program for MRI-Europe. This step not only enhanced the cooperation between the two institutions, but also generated added value for the larger mountain science community through joint initiatives such as, for instance, the MountainTRIP project (2009-11).
The same year, the MRI-Europe started network development at the regional scale. Requested by a group of scientists mandated by the Interim Secretariat for the Carpathian Convention (ISCC), UNEP-Vienna, MRI-Europe supported the launch of the 'Science for the Carpathians' (S4C) initiative during the 1st S4C Workshop on 27-28 May in Krakow, Poland. The need to downscale and refine the GLOCHAMORE Research Strategy to the regional scale became obvious, as even European mountain ranges differ in their biophysical, ecological, economic and sociocultural characteristics. Since its launch, S4C emerged as one of the most active research communities within the MRI-Europe Program, generating peer-reviews papers, the Research Agenda for the Carpathians (PDF) and the bi-annual Forum Carpaticum.
In 2009, stimulated by the S4C initiative, the Southeastern European Mountain Research network (SEEmore) was established during an international conference on 24-26 April in Borovets, Bulgaria . To identify research priorities for the Balkan Peninsula, sound knowledge on ongoing activities and active global change researchers in the Balkan region had to be generated first. The SEEmore Conference in Timisoara, Romania, August 2010, represented a crucial departure point for the identification of research priorities (LINK), strategic planning (Roadmap) and networking. In May 2011, a Bulgarian SEEmore workshop 'Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions: Science and Practice' was organized at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, to foster the dialogue between science and governmental institutions. Addressing one of the key thematic fields identified during the 2nd SEEmore Conference in Timisoara, a workshop 'Climate Change in the Carpathian-Balkan Region during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene' was organized by the University of Suceava, Romania (9-12 June 2011) to discuss and promote opportunities for collaboration.The 3rd SEEmore Conference took place 5-6 July 2012 at the Ankara University, Ankara.
Apart from the regional activities in the Balkan and Carpathian mountains, the MRI-Europe Programme engaged in the development of research proposals, advocated for mountain research at the EU-level, lead large-scale synthesis processes, and facilitated communication within the European mountain research community.
Björnsen Gurung, A., Bokwa A., Chełmicki W., Elbakidze M., Hirschmugl M., Hostert P., Ibisch P., Kozak J. , Kuemmerle T., Matei E., Ostapowicz K., Pociask-Karteczka J., Schmidt L., van der Linden S., and Zebisch M. (2009). Global Change Research in the Carpathian Mountain Region. Mountain Research and Development 28(3):282-288. (LINK)
Björnsen Gurung, A. (2010). Alpine Knowledge Gardening: Research Network for the advancement of science and development. In: Borsdorf, A., G. Grabherr, K. Heinrich, B. Scott and J. Stötter (eds.): Challenges for Mountain Regions – Tackling Complexity. Vienna: Böhlau. (PDF)
Björnsen Gurung, A. (2011). Science Networks for Global Change in Mountain Regions: The Mountain Research Initiative. In: Georgi Zhelezov (ed.), Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions: Southeastern Europe. Springer, Dordrecht, 281-287. ISBN: 978-94-007-0130-4 (LINK)
Kozak J. and Björnsen Gurung A. (eds) (2011). Research Agenda for the Carpathians Krakow. (LINK to S4C website/Resources and PDF)