Eurasian Grassland Conference 2020


EGC 2020: Grasslands dynamics and conservation in a changing world

17th Eurasian Grassland Conference

in Tolosa, Spain

07-13 September 2020

Tolosa view
grazing sheep

On the left: Oltza field in Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park (photo:, in the center: view of Tolosa (photo: I. Biurrun), on the right: sheeps in Urbia in Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park (photo:

We would like to invite you to 17th annual conference of EDGG in Tolosa (Basque Country, Spain), organized by the University of the Basque Country. We offer you the opportunity to hear latest advances in grassland science and conservation, exchange and improve your knowledge, networking and have good time. The conference will be full of events e.g. talk and  poster sessions, workshops, grassland party, mid- and post-conference excursions. We hope to meet you in the Basque Country! 


Grasslands dynamics and conservation in a changing world

Natural and semi-natural grasslands are currently facing several challenges in the context of the global change, both regarding land use changes and climatic change. Palaearctic grasslands are among the most intensively and negatively human-impacted-ones, characterized by a strong declining trend in habitat extension and intactness as well as species diversity and abundance since the second half of the 20th century. Both intensification of management and cessation of extensive traditional land use are affecting conservation of semi-natural grasslands. In this context, we want to focus on the following topics:

  • Succession and species turnover in abandoned grasslands in the context of cessation of traditional land use.
  • Biodiversity of urban grasslands which may often act as refuges for endangered fauna, flora and habitats.
  • Above and belowground grassland diversity including plants, animals, mycobiota, bacteria, in the context of grassland management type.
  • Grassland conservation and global change: historical changes and future prospects on grassland extend and quality in the context of land use changes and climate change.

In addition to them, any other contribution in the frame of Palaearctic grasslands diversity, classification, management and conservation will be welcome.

Dates and venue

The 17th EGC of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (IAVS Working Group) will be held in Tolosa (Basque Country, Spain, 20,000 inh.,,_Gipuzkoa; from Monday 7 to Sunday 13 September 2020.

This historic town is located in the valley of the Cantabrian river Oria, and is 25 km away from San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque), at 20-30 min. train distance. In the medieval times it was a very important checking point among the Kingdom of Navarre, the Kingdom of Castile and France and the Cantabrian harbours. Currently it hosts many important cultural events and a traditional market all Saturdays.

The Registration and Sessions will be held in TOPIC, the Tolosa puppets international centre, in Tolosa city centre: Euskal Herria, 1.

Topic in Euskal Herria square
Conference room

Venue of the EGC, TOPIC (Tolosa puppets international centre). On the left, TOPIC in the middle of Euskal Herria square (photo:; on the right, conference room (photo:

Program outline

September 7, Monday                               Technical workshops, EGC registration, welcome drink

September 8, Tuesday                              Registration, 1st session day

September 9, Wednesday                        Mid-conference excursion, grassland party

September 10, Thursday                          2nd session day, EDGG General Assembly

September 11-13, Friday to Sunday         Post-conference excursion (optional) 



You can register and post your abstract at the web page of the conference, which is expected to be launched in January (all EDGG members will be informed by e-mail when the website is available).


Mid-conference excursion to Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, 9 September

The highest peak in the Basque Autonomous region, Aitxuri (1551 m a.s.l.) is located in this limestone mountain range. The main entrance to the park is from the impressive Sanctuary of Arantzazu, over a steep ravine at 750 m a.s.l.  (http://www.oñ On our way to the mountain summit, we will cross dry grasslands with Helictotrichon cantabricum and Sesleria autumnalis and basophilous thorny-cushion scrub with Genista occidentalis in the successional stages of Quercus pubescens forests. We will go up to Urbia fields, at 1100 m a.s.l., through beech forests. In Urbia grasslands of Violion caninae (Jasiono laevis-Danthonietum decumbentis plant community) and heathlands of Daboecion cantabricae (Vaccinio-Ulicetum gallii) form the traditional pastoral landscape. Back on the limestone steep slopes towards the summit, rocky grasslands of the class Festuco-Ononidetea (association Carici ornithopodae-Teucrietum pyrenaici) occur, with Teucrium pyrenaicum, Carex caryophyllea, C. ornithopoda, Festuca rectifolia, Brachypodium rupestre, Acinos alpinus, Thymus praecox, etc. On higher elevations, we will find subalpine dry grasslands with Festuca gautieri subsp. scoparia and Agrostis schleicheri (Festucion scopariae). Near the summit, limestone cliffs harbor rupicolous communities with Potentilla alchimilloides, Hornungia alpina subsp. auerswaldii, Dethawia splendens and Erinus alpinus (Dethawio-Potentilletum alchimilloidis), and mesic chionophilous grasslands with Sesleria caerulea (Primulion intricatae). Grassland party will be held near Arantzazu Sanctuary, in Gomiztegi shepherd school.


Sanctuary of Arantzazu, with 14 apostles by the Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza. Photo:


Location of main cities, accommodations and excursion sites (map from GoogleEarth)

Post-conference excursion to the Basque Country and Navarre (optional, restricted to approx. 40 people)

11 September

Atlantic valleys and mountains in Gipuzkoa and Northern Navarre: Coastal heathlands in Jaizkibel. Mountain acidic grasslands, heathlands and mires in Belate. Night in Isaba.

12 September

Pyrenean mountains: mountain and subalpine pastures in Belagua and Larra. Night in Beire/Tudela.

13 September

Ebro valley (Bardenas Reales): Mediterranean grasslands and scrub. Urbasa mountain range: submediterranean dry grasslands. Night near Bilbao, in hotel with transfer to airport (most flights to European cities start early in the morning).


On the left: view of Donostia (Photo:, on the right: Urbia and Aizkorri (Photo:


We hope to offer a limited number of travel grants for IAVS members. To qualify, active participation at the conference (oral presentation or poster) is required and priority will be given to young scientists with financial constraints. Grants can be applied during registration, including a short motivation letter. More details will be given in the in the webpage soon.

Conference publications

As in previous years, there will be Special Features (SFs) with selected contributions from the conference in international, peer-reviewed journals, guest-edited by EDGG members.

Young Investigator Prizes

As in previous years, prizes will be awarded to young scientists for excellent presentation of their research (talk or in poster form).

Accommodation during the conference

It should be booked independently by each participant. A list of accommodations will be given in the second circular.


Tolosa town may be reached by train or bus from San Sebastian. The best option is to take a direct bus from Bilbao airport to San Sebastian (1 hour and 8 min.), and, close to the bus station, take a train to Tolosa (20 or 30 min.). There is also the possibility to fly to Biarritz airport, in France, and travel by bus to San Sebastian (45 min.). Details about travelling will be available in the second circular.

Aizkorri summit
grazing cattle

On the left: mountain summits in Aizkorri (Photo: J. Loidi), on the right: Menhir of Zorrotzarri (Photo:

Local Organizing Committee

Idoia Biurrun – Chair,

Asun Berastegi,

Juan Antonio Campos,

Itziar García-Mijangos,

Mercedes Herrera,

Javier Loidi,

Javier Peralta,

Isabel Salcedo,

EDGG Conferences Coordinators

Didem Ambarlı,

Alla Aleksanyan,