The Open University of Cyprus (OUC) and its Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Lab is leading a new Erasmus+ project entitled “Improving biodiversity’s resilience to climate-and human-induced threats through nursing positive Human-Herpetofauna Interactions” (HerpTrust). The project’s consortium comprises of the OUC as the lead partner, the Friends of the Earth Malta NGO, and Ecostac Innovations Limited operating in Malta. Herpetofauna (reptile and amphibian) species are currently one of the most endangered groups worldwide, with their numbers on the decline due to both climate change and a series of human-related threats such as persecution, pollution, and habitat fragmentation, and targeted conservation actions are thus urgently needed to protect the most threatened herp species.
Most people are unaware of herpetofauna’s importance to the environment, while not being able to identify reptiles and most importantly venomous from non-venomous snakes leads to “ophidiophobia”, even for the harmless species, that in turn leads towards unnecessary persecution. Moreover, uncontrolled development with the continuously expanding cities and road networks, and the intensification of agriculture, is irreversibly degrading and fragmenting important habitats of herp species. Τhis project, identifying the above problems, aims to contribute to improving biodiversity’s resilience, by nursing and promoting positive Human-Herpetofauna Interactions (HHI) through herpetofauna-related adult education to citizens and VET. Professionals who live and work in nature (e.g. farmers, shepherds, hunters), and are in contact with herpetofauna species on a regular basis, are the real countryside managers and can actually make a difference, safeguarding herps and the rest of biodiversity.
The concrete objectives of the HerpTrust project are to:
- Produce an e-learning course about Human-Herpetofauna Interactions (HHI)
- Develop an interactive online tool that will allow countryside managers to be constantly updated on herpetofauna of their area and also contribute themselves through a citizen science platform
- Produce a replicability e-package for education & training activities related to HHI
- Interact with the target groups and increase output uptake by implementing 2 multiplier events, in Cyprus and Malta
The project will allow VET and adult education providers to build education and training activities related to HHI, reforming the stakeholders’ mindset, improving attitude and contributing towards an increment of biodiversity’s resilience to climate and human-induced threats.
More specifically, Professor Zembylas whose main research interests focus on curriculum and pedagogy, social justice pedagogies, intercultural and peace education, and human rights education, is ranked 1st nationally and 502th worldwide with d-index=68 in the fields of Social Sciences and Humanities. Professor Manolopoulos with special research interest on data management is ranked 1st nationally and is in the 1950th position worldwide in the field of Computer Science with d-index=61.
Professor Petros Pashiardis, Rector of the Open University of Cyprus, warmly congratulates the two academics for this well-deserved recognition of the quality and productiveness of their research work acknowledged amongst their peers. “The University also takes great pride in OUC’s national and worldwide rankings in the fields of Social Sciences & Humanities and Computer Science, and we aspire to build on these achievements”. The ranking list, published by Research.com, is based on bibliometric analyzes and data from a variety of sources, including OpenAlex and CrossRef.
Source: Open University of Cyprus | News (https://shorturl.at/rEJN5)