Article

Gaps in ecological research on the world's largest internationally coordinated network of protected areas: A review of Natura 2000

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Abstract

Natura 2000 (N2k) is a multinational and coordinated conservation network designated to support the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable species and habitats. It is the key conservation tool in the European Union. We reviewed 510 peer-reviewed publications (period 1998–2014) focusing on ecological aspects of N2k, with the aims of identifying key research gaps and proposing future research priorities for improved conservation success. We categorized the articles by spatial scale, biogeographical regions, taxonomic groups, habitat types, and the analytical methods used. The majority of studies were performed in single N2k sites or at the regional level within countries. The Mediterranean region had the greatest number of publications and the terrestrial Black Sea, Macaronesia, Pannonian and Steppic regions were overrepresented in relation to their total area and to the area of N2k sites that they comprised. Grasslands, freshwater and wetland habitats were overrepresented in comparison to their area within N2k. Plants were the most commonly studied taxonomic group and quantitative empirical studies dominated. Future N2k research should address knowledge gaps by directing more efforts towards: 1) the Boreal region, 2) alpine, agricultural, forest and marine habitats, and 3) underrepresented taxonomic groups such as reptiles, amphibians, lichens and fungi. For enhanced evaluation and realization of the conservation potential of N2k, more studies will need to encompass large spatial scales and utilize modelling approaches to effectively address future climate and land-use changes.

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... N2K is the largest and most coordinated network of PAs in the world, and the key for biodiversity conservation in the EU (Evans, 2012). N2K was designed to maintain or restore a favourable conservation status (and trends in bird populations) of the most valuable and threatened species and habitats, which are characteristic of the EU's terrestrial and marine biogeographical regions (EEA, 2012;Orlikowska et al., 2016); those species and habitats that were included in the annexes of the directives (EEA, 2012). However, annex species were selected by unevenly distributed taxonomic experts, several groups were 'inherited' from the 1979 Bern Convention's annexes (Evans et al., 2013;Hochkirch et al., 2013aa;Orlikowska et al., 2016), and an umbrella effect was assumed but not assessed. ...
... N2K was designed to maintain or restore a favourable conservation status (and trends in bird populations) of the most valuable and threatened species and habitats, which are characteristic of the EU's terrestrial and marine biogeographical regions (EEA, 2012;Orlikowska et al., 2016); those species and habitats that were included in the annexes of the directives (EEA, 2012). However, annex species were selected by unevenly distributed taxonomic experts, several groups were 'inherited' from the 1979 Bern Convention's annexes (Evans et al., 2013;Hochkirch et al., 2013aa;Orlikowska et al., 2016), and an umbrella effect was assumed but not assessed. This could explain the current mismatch between the annexes of the directives and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN; Trochet & Schmeller, 2013;Moser et al., 2016). ...
... The first strategy would involve continuous designations and degazettements of a number protected areas, an instability not free from political, social and economic uncertainties (Stamper et al., 2013;Cook et al., 2017). The second strategyto the extent that an umbrella effect is foundwould imply a mostly stable network that facilitates the conservation of the entire biodiversity through management measures (Maes et al., 2013;Orlikowska et al., 2016). ...
Article
The Natura 2000 network (N2K) was designed using species and habitats annexed in the European Union’s (EU) Directives of Birds (BD) and Habitats (HD). The selection of such species receives increasing criticism, as does the frequent use of design methods not based on Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP). As a result, a proportion of the EU’s biodiversity may remain uncovered by the network, irrespective of the degree of coverage of the annex species. Data limitations currently prevent rigorous EU‐wide gap analysis for multiple biodiversity components simultaneously (i.e., taxonomic groups, conservation attributes and organizational levels), but regional data at finer resolutions may add evidence of the breadth of the umbrella effect to be expected. We tested the hypothesis that an objectively designed N2K may confer the EU´s annex species an umbrella effect over multiple biodiversity components. This conjoint analysis of multiple taxa, attributes and levels is rarely done. We used distribution data of terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates in one of the richest regions in the EU (Extremadura, Spain), whose reserves and biodiversity surpass many EU countries, and where the N2K was designed through SCP. We implemented a gap analysis explicitly including annex species status, conservation‐relevant attributes (rarity, endemicity and vulnerability) and organizational levels (species, richness and hotspots). The annexed species acted as an umbrella group at the species, richness and hotspot levels, successfully covering rarity, endemicity and vulnerability. Our results show that the set of species that currently forms the EU’s directives annexes has a wide umbrella potential, at least where objective SCP methods were used for reserve design. We suggest that, under such conditions, N2K design could essentially remain constant within a context of changing threat status, the challenge of conservation resting more on management measures than on redesigns of the network. An objectively designed Natura 2000 network (N2K) may confer the EU´s annex species an umbrella effect over multiple biodiversity components, which must be validated by an analysis of multiple taxa, conservation attributes and organization levels. We used distribution data of terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates in one of the richest regions in the EU (Extremadura, Spain), where the N2K was designed through Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP). We implemented a gap analysis explicitly including annex species status, conservation‐relevant attributes (rarity, endemicity and vulnerability), and organizational levels (species, richness, and hotspots). The annexed species acted as an umbrella group at all levels, successfully covering conservation attributes. This set has a wide umbrella potential, at least where objective SCP methods were used for reserve design. Thus, N2K design could essentially remain constant within a context of changing threat status, the challenge of conservation resting more on management measures than on redesigns of the network.
... The European Union's (EU) Natura 2000 network, established under the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and Habitats Directive (92/43/ECC), is considered the largest coordinated multinational network of protected areas in the world (Maes et al., 2012;European Commission, 2016). Reaching a significant protected area slightly more than 20 years ago (Evans, 2012), large-scale conservation in Natura 2000 network still is particularly challenging since the continent consists of different countries with multiple political, economic, social and ecological systems (Orlikowska et al., 2016) and is characterized by a relatively high human population density and a long land-use history (Henle et al., 2008;Kati et al., 2015). ...
... These issues led to various types of threats to conservation, the most common disturbances (pressure) identified in many protected areas of the world include human actions like urbanization, road construction, mining, deforestation, agriculture or grazing and natural phenomena like fire, pest invasion or drought Nagendra, 2008;Tsiafouli et al., 2013;Macedo-Sousa et al., 2009;Reddy et al., 2017). These pressures led consequently to failure to meet the targets of reducing the biodiversity loss rate in Europe by 2010(European Commission, 2011, the commission aiming to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2020, through Natura 2000 network, under the European Strategy for Biological Diversity 2020 (European Commission, 2015;Orlikowska et al., 2016), and currently by the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. ...
... Studies using remote sensing to monitor Natura 2000 natural habitats have been limited besides visual interpretation of satellite imagery, and rarely exploited in practice (Borre et al., 2011b). Moreover, in spite the fact that Natura 2000 PAs span across the European continent, the majority of studies, regardless of the used methods, were conducted within regional scale (35-56%) or in a single site (25%), whereas studies assessing the whole EU were least common (6-9%) (Orlikowska et al., 2016;Popescu et al., 2014). Maes et al. (2012) used remote sensing derived CORINE Land Cover 2000 dataset along with different other data to map ten spatial surrogates for ecosystem service supply and three for biodiversity at European scale, and assess the spatial relationships between conservation status of Natura 2000 PAs, biodiversity and ecosystem services. ...
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The world's largest network of protected areas (PAs), Natura 2000, is facing different types of disturbances and pressures, however, it still remains unclear the impact they have on the conservation status of sites. Remote sensing big data analysis and satellite data were used to quantify dynamics of the dominant land cover category, landscape structure, and vegetation greenness, as indicators of conservation status, as well as drivers of change, between 2000 and 2018, within each Natura 2000 protected area, across the entire European Union. Our results show that the majority of sites are 'favourable' on natural land cover range and areas, but heading to 'unfav-ourable' status regarding the landscape structure, while an alarmingly high number of sites experience both net loss of the dominant land cover type and degradation of landscape structure, labeled consequently as having an 'unfavourable' conservation status. The results also showed high differences between biogeographic regions and countries, with an extremely low number of sites suffering dramatic changes to other dominant land cover types, mainly among grasslands. Mediterranean region showed a high net forest increase (mainly extension of existing forests) as well as insignificant changes of landscape fragmentation and diversity (predominantly in Greece, Spain and, Italy), related to the intensification of forest planting, and to a high loss of grassland area and cropland (land abandonment). High net forest gain, but increasing landscape fragmentation, was observed in the Continental region (mainly in Bulgaria, Poland, Germany and, Italy), suggesting that forest developed in numerous new smaller patches, due to the development of invasive species through natural processes (agricul-tural land abandonment) and natural system modifications. The Alpine region also showed a low positive net forest change, but with significant dynamics of gains due to reducing of agricultural activities and human disturbances , and losses due to natural catastrophes such as natural fires, storms, avalanches or landslides. Contrarily, the Boreal and Atlantic regions recorded considerable net forest loss during the analyzed period, caused mainly by the occurrence of natural catastrophes, natural biotic and abiotic processes (erosion, para-sitism, diseases), and the increase of forestry clearance. These results show the high potential of moderate resolution remote sensing big data in assessing PAs, even more as higher spatial and temporal resolution satellite data are continuously emerging.
... Initiatives of coordinated networks of protected areas covering the scale of the continent are extremely difficult to implement. The world's largest multinational coordinated conservation infrastructure is Natura 2000, which stretches across national borders in European Union (UE) (Blicharska et al., 2016). This network provides ecosystem services worth ca. ...
... Member States must ensure that the sites are managed in a sustainable manner, both ecologically and economically. It is also important to increase the conversion rate from science to practice and to implement solutions related to the protection of habitats in Member State legislation (Blicharska et al., 2016). ...
... A relatively large portion of the ecological research on the Natura 2000 system is focused on a few (or a single) species within one or a few sites (Orlikowska et al., 2016). Although the Natura 2000 spans across the European continent, the majority of studies have been conducted within regions at the sub-national level (Popescu et al., 2014). ...
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This paper discusses the threats to the running water habitats that are highly important to biodiversity the European Community in the Continental Biogeographical Region (CBR) of Europe, specifically in Poland. This study covers four water course habitat types distinguished in Natura 2000, which is a network of nature protection areas in the territory (3260, 3220, 3240, 3270 - the code of the habitat, as in Annex I of the Habitat Directive), occurring in 806 Special Areas of Conservation in Poland. Based on a multivariate analysis, we found significant differences in the conservation status of running water habitats resulting from a variety of threats, pressures, and activities. Agriculture has a number of negative impacts on running water habitats, which are most evident for the following habitats: 3260 > 3270. Forest management may have both negative (3260) and positive effects on habitats (3270). Natural system modifications strongly affect habitats 3240, 3270 > 3260. Among the negative anthropogenic influences are pollution (3260 > 3220); human intrusions, disturbances, and tourism (reported most often) (3260, 3270); transportation and service corridors (3260, and 3270); urbanization, residential, and commercial development tourism (3260); biological resource use other than for agriculture and forestry (3270 > 3260); and mining, extraction of materials, and energy production (3270). Geological events and natural catastrophes—most often inundation—were identified as important hazards for habitat 3240. The development of alien and invasive species strongly affects habitats 3240 > 3260, 3270, and natural biotic and abiotic processes affect habitats 3220 > 3260. Negative impacts associated with climate change were detected mostly for habitat 3260. Taking into account the threats identified, a list of recommended practices for running water habitat types is presented, to be considered in habitat conservation programmes.
... Designation of MPAs was low until 2000 (MPAs made up less than 0.1% of the oceans for most of the 20 th century) but has since increased by more than 10 million km 2 , roughly the size of Canada (OECD 2016;Sala et al. 2018). The rise in designated sites may be attributed to the ambitious goal set out by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to achieve a global MPA target of 10% by 2020 (CBD 2010;Costello and Ballantine 2015;Orlikowska et al. 2016). In 2010, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity targets were adopted, calling for stronger environmental protection worldwide by setting conservation objectives like the aforementioned target (CBD 2010). ...
... Using the number of designations as an indicator of MPA effectiveness is a relatively new approach. While studies have argued over the effectiveness of certain designations or criteria Moser et al. 2016;Orlikowska et al. 2016;Hausner et al. 2017), the literature is lacking in attempts to draw a correlation between the number of designations and effective management. Multiple designations may increase the resilience to threats and reinforce protection, promote sustainable development, engage local communities in conservation, create partnerships and attract more research and increase public education and awareness on conservation issues (UNEP-WCMC, IUCN and NGS 2018). ...
... Natura 2000 is different from previous European conservation systems because it goes beyond preventing the destruction of wildlife and focuses on finding a sustainable equilibrium between humans and nature . Gaps remain, however, in research regarding socioeconomic realities as they apply to MPAs and Natura 2000 sites in general (Klein et al. 2015;Blicharska et al. 2016;Orlikowska et al. 2016;Gill et al. 2017). There is less research conducted on marine sites than terrestrial sites, with seabirds being the least investigated within the Natura 2000 network (Orlikowska et al. 2016). ...
Article
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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a conservation tool designed to adequately manage and protect marine resources threatened by human activity by addressing both biological and socioeconomic needs. The Irish Sea is a busy waterway under the jurisdiction of six entities (Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, England, and Wales). Within this body of water there are almost 200 conservation designations across 111 MPA sites, with many sites having multiple designations (national, EU, and international). Data is lacking on the effectiveness of these protected areas in reaching their conservation objectives due to sites being inadequately monitored. The race to meet the 10% marine protected area target set by the Conservation on Biological Diversity, however, may be compromising effective planning. Do multiple designations ensure better protection of the marine environment, or is the Irish Sea home to paper parks, offering little protection? Metadata compiled from the World Database on Protected Areas and conservation reports from MPA managers were used to investigate this question. The results show a positive correlation between the number of designations of a site and the existence of a publicly available management plan. The presence of a management plan was also linked to whether or not site assessments were conducted by the relevant authorities, and sites having multiple designations was weakly correlated with favourable assessment outcomes. The results of this study highlight the need to better understand the requirements of national, regional and international-level conservation designations and how they interact with each other.
... It includes Special Protection Areas designated under the Birds Directive (EPCEU, 2009) and Special Areas of Conservation designated under the Habitats Directive (CEC, 1992). According to the Habitats Directive, EU member states are required to manage natural habitats and species to reach or maintain 'favorable conservation status' (Epstein et al., 2015;Orlikowska et al., 2016). The N2k network encompasses a wide diversity of protection levels (often linked to national-level formal protection designations) ranging from areas where all human activities are prohibited to areas where conservation is combined with sustainable management of natural resources (CEC, 1992;Orlikowska et al., 2016). ...
... According to the Habitats Directive, EU member states are required to manage natural habitats and species to reach or maintain 'favorable conservation status' (Epstein et al., 2015;Orlikowska et al., 2016). The N2k network encompasses a wide diversity of protection levels (often linked to national-level formal protection designations) ranging from areas where all human activities are prohibited to areas where conservation is combined with sustainable management of natural resources (CEC, 1992;Orlikowska et al., 2016). N2k is critical for the implementation of the countries' international obligations, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2018) and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 (Dudley et al., 2005;COM, 2011). ...
... The forest land in Sweden is dominated by largely modified landscapes consisting of many small remnants of natural areas of high conservation value embedded in a matrix of human-made or semi-natural habitats (Jongman, 2002;Svensson et al., 2019). N2k sites are strongly influenced by this matrix (Orlikowska et al., 2016). In the present study, we show that by including landscape requirements, the habitat quality for LSW, SJ and HG in N2k sites in Sweden is lower than if only local (pixel) level quality is considered, exemplifying the impact of increasing habitat fragmentation. ...
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Biodiversity conservation often requires a landscape perspective. When establishing the Natura 2000 (N2k) network, the effectiveness of the sites and the influence of the surrounding landscapes for species of interest was often disregarded. We analyzed the effectiveness of N2k sites in Sweden for three forest bird species of conservation interest in the European boreal landscapes: lesser spotted woodpecker (LSW), Siberian jay (SJ) and hazel grouse (HG). Our objectives were to: 1) quantify effective suitable habitat area in N2k sites with and without consideration of the adjoining landscapes; 2) examine effective habitat area within N2k sites along the north-south vegetation gradient 3) analyze functionality of N2k sites and assess how forests outside the sites affect habitat suitability inside N2k. GIS-based habitat suitability index models were applied to calculate the amount of effective habitat within and outside N2k sites. N2k sites contributed with 10% (HG), 13% (SJ) and 51% (LSW) suitable habitat identified in Sweden. Functionality of forest environments as habitat was higher inside N2k sites for LSW within all vegetation zones, and for SJ in the Alpine and Middle Boreal zones; for HG habitat outside the sites was more functional in all zones accept Alpine and Middle Boreal. The majority of N2k sites were of quite small size (
... Climate change velocity was calculated for terrestrial Europe including the Natura 2000 network. Natura 2000 is the largest protected area network worldwide (Orlikowska et al., 2016). This study focused on the Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated under the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC (1979) and Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC (1992), respectively. ...
... In contrast to individual countries, they help to abstract and summarize findings in an ecological way. An integrated review study on Natura 2000 by Orlikowska et al. (2016) suggested emphasizing biodiversity conservation actions inside individual biogeographical regions, which can address conservation efforts for similar biotas and help with implementing research results into more effective conservation practices. Accordingly, the climate change velocities both inside and outside the Natura 2000 network were compared among eleven terrestrial biogeographical regions across Europe in this study (Fig. 1b). ...
Article
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Anthropogenic climate change is challenging biodiversity conservation worldwide. Climate change metrics derived from future climate predictions help to assess potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Here we calculated future climate change velocities across biogeographical regions of terrestrial Europe and the Natura 2000 protected area network, the largest protected area network on Earth. We applied climate projections for the year 2070, considering two emission scenarios, six global climate models and a fine spatial resolution. Areas with very high climate change velocity were identified as climate change hotspots, while areas with very low velocity were recognized as coldspots. We further revealed where and to what extent climate change hotspots and coldspots coincide with Natura 2000 sites. We found that climate change velocities are projected highest in the Continental and Boreal regions, and lowest in the Mediterranean and Anatolian regions. However, the Alpine region will likely contain largest areal proportions of climate change hotspots, while areal proportions of coldspots are projected largest in the Mediterranean region. High mountain regions such as the Alps show a high proportion of Natura 2000 sites that coincide with climate change hotspots. Both, hotspots and coldspots, are geographically associated with areas of topographic diversity. Low topographical diversity indicates high climate change exposure. The impact of hotspots increases with spatial isolation. Oceanic climate buffers climate change exposure in contrast to continental climate. However, continental regions of Europe tend to exhibit less spatial isolation. We recommend conservation action in climate change hotspots and coldspots to simultaneously protect the most climate-exposed biodiversity as well as climate change refugia. Climate change hotspots and coldspots overlapping with Natura 2000 sites should be considered priority conservation sites because new protected areas are hard to realize in densely populated landscapes of Europe. This study directs European conservation management and policy towards meeting international conservation goals in a climate-smart way.
... In their review on articles focused on the Natura 2000 network Orlikowska et al. [29] identified a lack of studies that cover multiple Natura 2000 sites over large spatial areas and use modelling approaches to conduct such extensive surveys. Furthermore, Mazaris and Katsanevakis [30] pointed out that insufficient and inadequate reporting of invasive species in the Mediterranean Natura 2000 sites poses a significant obstacle for conservation management. ...
... We also call for future research to detect invasive species in the other Natura 2000 areas, especially the Continental and Boreal regions in the European Union. The Continental and Boreal regions are under-represented in terms of ecological research among the Natura 2000 areas [29] and furthermore these areas are experiencing an accelerated global warming [51], making them more vulnerable to biological invasions ( [52,53]). Detection of invasive species with machine learning and Sentinel 2 satellite imagery, as shown by this study, could help mitigate the negative impact of these species, by conveying results to stakeholders, such as authorities who are responsible for the management of Natura 2000 sites. ...
Article
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Plantations of fast-growing Eucalyptus trees have become a common sight in the western Iberian peninsula where they are planted to exploit their economic potential. Negative side-effects of large scale plantations including the invasive behavior of Eucalyptus trees outside of regular plantations have become apparent. This study uses medium resolution, multi-spectral imagery of the Sentinel 2 satellites to map Eucalyptus across Portugal and parts of Spain with a focus on Natura 2000 areas inside Portugal, that are protected under the European birds and habitats directives. This method enables the detection of small incipient as well as mixed populations outside of regular plantations. Ground truth maps were compiled using field surveys as well as high resolution satellite imagery and were used to train Feedforward Neural Networks. These models predict Eucalyptus tree cover with a sensitivity of up to 75.7% as well as a specificity of up to 95.8%. The overall accuracy of the prediction is 92.5%. A qualitative assessment of Natura 2000 areas in Portugal has been performed and 15 areas have been found to be affected by Eucalyptus of which 9 are strongly affected. This study demonstrates the applicability of multi-spectral imagery for tree-species classification and invasive species control. It provides a probability-map of Eucalyptus tree cover for the western Iberian peninsula with 10 m spatial resolution and shows the need for monitoring of Eucalyptus in protected areas.
... In foreign scientific literature the authors use several different approaches to study of geoecological framework which correspond to the concepts of "ecological nets /networks" [17,22,24,28,30,31], green infrastructure [19,20]. ...
... Analysis of the spatial and temporal characteristics of ecosystems involves research in the field of molecular, genetic and global ecology [18]. A review of current publications suggests the dominance of studies devoted to the study of plant communities; taxonomic groups such as reptiles, amphibians, lichens, and fungi remain less studied [22]. It is necessary to take into account (for example, in the process of ecosystem management) interspecific antagonistic and mutualistic ties [23]. ...
... The harmonized forest types classification can solve the lack of information at spatial level, which is crucial to strengthening cross-sectorial and international cooperation in biodiversity conservation policies and initiatives [48]. Conservation programs at a large scale are challenging because of the different political, social and ecological conditions between countries and economic systems [49]. Spatially harmonized information with more detail at a national level is needed [26,27] and in this study the 28 forest types obtained are able to describe the composition of the forests in the Iberian Peninsula and their distribution in a clear and at the same time detailed way. ...
... In Italy, a harmonized forest map based on dominant species found similar bridges between their forest types systems and the EFTs system [27]. Different forest ecosystems resources assessments could possibly converge on a common nomenclature system for Europe [25][26][27]49]. ...
Article
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National Forest Inventories (NFIs) collect and provide a large amount of information regarding the forest volume, carbon stocks, vitality, biodiversity, non-wood forest products and their changes. Forest stands variables data are paramount to understanding their composition, especially on those related with understory characteristics and the coverage of species according to canopy layers; they are essential to assess biodiversity and to support forest management. At the same time, these inventories allow the development of harmonized forest descriptions beyond the national scale. This study aims to develop a homogeneous characterization of the Iberian Peninsula’s forests, in order to classify and identify the forest types. For this purpose, harmonized data from NFIs of Portugal and Spain were used to assess the composition of species, dominance and the percentage of cover for each species in a vertical space defined by seven canopy layers. Using the “K-means” clustering algorithm, a set of clusters was identified and georeferenced using forest polygons from land use and cover maps of both countries. The interpretation and description of the clusters lead to the establishment of 28 forest types that characterize all of the Iberian Peninsula forests. Each forest area has been described through one of the forest types and their relation with other ecological characteristics of the stands was analyzed. Shrubs formations are generally widely distributed in the forest area of the Iberian Peninsula, however their abundance in terms of cover is lower in comparison with tree species. Around 71% of the forest types are dominated by trees, mainly species from the genera Pinus and Quercus, and 21% are dominated by shrub formations with species of Ulex spp., Cytisus spp., and Cistus spp. The Quercus ilex s.l. L. and Pinus pinaster Aiton are the common species of importance for both NFIs. The results represent a powerful and homogenous multi-use tool describing the Iberian Peninsula’s forestlands with applications on landscape analysis, forest management and conservation. This information can be used for comparisons at larger scales, allowing cross-border analysis in relation to various aspects, such as hazards and wildfires, as well as management and conservation of forest biodiversity. The developed method is adaptable to an updated dataset from more recent NFIs and to other study areas.
... The effectiveness and representativity of Natura 2000 were evaluated for different taxonomic groups and geographic areas, and the conclusions tended to highlight suboptimal planning (D'Amen et al., 2013;Dimitrakopoulos, Memtsas & Troumbis, 2004;Kukkala et al., 2016;Lisón, Palazón & Calvo, 2013;Müller, Schneider & Jantke, 2018;Müller, Schneider & Jantke, 2020;Votsi, Zomeni & Pantis, 2016). The suboptimal planning of Natura 2000 at the EU and at Member States levels originates from an uncoordinated process (Apostolopoulou & Pantis, 2009;Iojă et al., 2010;Lisón et al., 2017;Orlikowska et al., 2016), which was partially resolved by selecting new sites after expert-opinion evaluations during the Natura 2000 biogeographical seminars (Kenig-Witkowska, 2017;Manolache et al., 2017). Furthermore, the efficacy of the Natura 2000 network was extensively re-evaluated from other perspectives, for example, for understanding the effect of climate change on representativity (Araújo et al., 2011;Popescu et al., 2013) and for coordinating conservation investments (Hermoso et al., 2017;Nita et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Background: The European Union strives to increase protected areas of the EU terrestrial surface to 30% by year 2030, of which one third should be strictly protected. Designation of the Natura 2000 network, the backbone of nature protection in the EU, was mostly an expert-opinion process with little systematic conservation planning. The designation of the Natura 2000 network in Romania followed the same non-systematic approach, resulting in a suboptimal representation of invertebrates and plants. To help identify areas with very high biodiversity without repeating past planning missteps, we present a reproducible example of spatial prioritization using Romania's current terrestrial Natura 2000 network and coarse-scale terrestrial species occurrence. Methods: We used 371 terrestrial Natura 2000 Sites of Community Importance (Natura 2000 SCI), designated to protect 164 terrestrial species listed under Annex II of Habitats Directive in Romania in our spatial prioritization analyses (marine Natura 2000 sites and species were excluded). Species occurrences in terrestrial Natura 2000 sites were aggregated at a Universal Traverse Mercator spatial resolution of 1 km2. To identify priority terrestrial Natura 2000 sites for species conservation, and to explore if the Romanian Natura 2000 network sufficiently represents species included in Annex II of Habitats Directive, we used Zonation v4, a decision support software tool for spatial conservation planning. We carried out the analyses nationwide (all Natura 2000 sites) as well as separately for each biogeographic region (i.e., Alpine, Continental, Pannonian, Steppic and Black Sea). Results: The results of spatial prioritization of terrestrial Natura 2000 vary greatly by planning scenario. The performance of national-level planning of top priorities is minimal. On average, when 33% of the landscape of Natura 2000 sites is protected, only 20% of the distribution of species listed in Annex II of Habitats Directive are protected. As a consequence, the representation of species by priority terrestrial Natura 2000 sites is lessened when compared to the initial set of species. When planning by taxonomic group, the top-priority areas include only 10% of invertebrate distribution in Natura 2000. When selecting top-priority areas by biogeographical region, there are significantly fewer gap species than in the national level and by taxa scenarios; thusly, the scenario outperforms the national-level prioritization. The designation of strictly protected areas as required by the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 should be followed by setting clear objectives, including a good representation of species and habitats at the biogeographical region level.
... However, even intensively managed forests may still preserve a high level of biodiversity (Carnus et al., 2006), maintain rare habitats, and hold important populations of forest specialist species, including disturbance-sensitive species such as large carnivores (Andersson et al., 2000;Felton et al., 2016). Even though commercial semi-natural and plantation forests are important ecosystems, both in terms of potential for biodiversity conservation and area occupied, they are usually under-represented in biodiversity studies, especially in central and eastern Europe (Orlikowska et al., 2016). Production forestry practices can threaten native biota through habitat change, fragmentation and disturbance. ...
Article
This study investigated the extent to which intensive forest management practices influence a widespread bird of conservation concern, the Woodlark Lullula arborea. We compared trends of the studied population in Notec Forest, Poland during 2010-2014 against country-wide monitoring data, and populations of the forest interior versus forest edge dominated landscapes (forest-agricultural area mosaic). We also studied the influences of forest management practice (clearing size, stand structure, forestry activities on restock sites, harvesting in the neighboring habitat, and retaining tree aggregates) on the population of this species. Changes in woodlark numbers, habitat availability, and quality differences among studied sites and years were assessed using ANOVA. The influence of habitat characteristics on woodlark occupancy and abundances were tested by Generalized Estimation Equations, while the magnitude of influences in the study years was compared by Random Forest algorithm (as were population trends). Over the four study years, 419 woodlark pairs occupied 336 patches, with a maximum of 127 pairs. The number of woodlark pairs fell by 40% on the studied areas over the period, in line with declines across Poland as a whole. In our study system, population trends did not differ between forest and forest-agro mosaic landscapes. Size, age and number of available habitats did not differ either temporally or spatially during the study. Retention of unfelled trees in clearfell areas and forest works in the nearby sites, however, showed slight differences among the sampling polygons. Larger habitat patch size and restock areas under five years favored woodlarks. Less important but still significant positive influences were a higher proportion of retained trees and elongated shape of the habitat patches. Forestry activities on the neighbor stands were correlated with increased woodlark abundances, which is an unexpected result. Moreover, forestry provides suitable habitats for woodlarks in a dynamically changing arrangement. The magnitude of the studied factors' influences on woodlarks showed a very high difference between study years, with the highest values in the years where woodlarks are the most numerous. In conclusion, we found no evidence that contemporary forestry adversely affects Woodlark habitat occupancy. Our study suggests that while managing land for one ecosystem service (timber), an apparent dis-benefit (loss of recreational attractiveness) might benefit some semi-open habitat species.
... The Natura 2000 network of protected areas covers over 18% of the European Union (EU) territory and is the largest coordinated multinational network of protected areas in the world Orlikowska et al., 2016). It results from the implementation of two complementary Directives, the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), which aim to protect designated species and habitats (Kukkala et al., 2016). ...
Article
Assessing progress towards achieving conservation targets is required for all countries committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Natura 2000 network is the largest protected area network in the world and was created to protect Europe's threatened species and habitats, often requiring active management. This study assesses the effectiveness of areas classified under the EU Birds Directive at protecting Western Europe's agro-steppes, the last remnants of suitable habitat for several endangered bird species. We quantify agro-steppe habitat change in the last 10 years using high-resolution aerial images of 21 Special Protection Areas and surrounding areas. The selected SPAs hold one third of the global population of great bustards Otis tarda, a flagship conservation species. Agro-steppe area losses occurred across all sites surveyed but were 45% lower inside Natura 2000 compared to non-protected areas. Natura 2000 sites still lost over 35,000 ha of agro-steppe habitat in 10 years, an area that could hold more than 500 great bustards. These low yield farmlands are being converted predominately to permanent and irrigated crops. At the current rate of habitat conversion, agro-steppes could be reduced to 50% of the present area during the next century. Moreover, the greater conversions outside protected sites may transform the remaining agro-steppes into isolated “islands” with low population connectivity. Our study on agro-steppes illustrates the relevant contribution of Natura 2000 at protecting Europe's key habitats, but also highlights crucial insufficiencies that still need to be addressed to achieve the CBD conservation targets and halt biodiversity loss.
... It has been posed that more effective conservation solutions should be achieved by coordinated planning at the continental, rather than local level (Kark et al. 2009;Moilanen et al. 2013;Robertson et al. 2015;Aizen et al. 2019;Pyšek et al. 2020). Such initiatives are particularly challenging because continents are composed of countries with a myriad of political, social, economic, ecological, and cultural systems (Orlikowska et al. 2016), which present different postures in dealing with environmental and conservation issues. Despite these difficulties, studies have argued the integrated approaches through international cooperation are pivotal to avoid and block transnational species invasions with the potential to negatively affect biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human livelihoods (Aizen et al. 2019;Pyšek et al. 2020). ...
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Humans are facilitating the introduction and range expansion of invasive alien species (IAS), which have negatively impacted ecological and socio-economic systems worldwide. Understanding the global diffusion of IAS is important for developing environmental policies and management strategies. We estimate the rate of increase and the doubling times of the number of new records of 178 IAS using a global dataset with c. 3.4 million records obtained over c. 100 years. Here, we show that the number of records of IAS have exponentially increased with a mean double time of c. 14 years across the Earth. For the most analysed species, the number of records increased faster in the non-native than native continents, suggesting that such IAS might be exponentially expanding their range size. We also found that each continent has a taxonomic group with a particular increase in IAS records. Governments and scientists should pay attention to these taxonomic groups to implement appropriate control or management actions. Our study provides an indication that the current local, regional and continental efforts to control invasions may be not sufficient at the global scale. This is a concerning situation given the great number of areas available for invasion worldwide.
... Systematic forest harvesting and forest management oriented towards plantation forestry and maximum biomass yield have been identified as potentially degrading and not sustainable [8]. Globally, as well as for the boreal forest biome, industrial forest management transforms intact forest landscapes at critical rates [23][24][25][26][27]. Forest harvesting continues despite governance and management policies that advocate increasing conservation rates and sustainable landscape approaches [28,29], thereby accelerating threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services [30,31]. The combined and cumulative effects of continued landscape transformation [26], land-use intensification [32], and different land use forms overlaid in space and time represent a potential "sledgehammer" [33] effect, where ecosystems and landscapes, due to the extensive human footprint, enter irreversible states from which they cannot recover to earlier states. ...
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Strong land-use pressure challenges sustainable development and calls for landscape approaches that balance economic, ecological, and socio-cultural aspects and interests. In the boreal, sub-alpine, and alpine regions in Sweden, encompassing 32 million ha, many and different land-use interests overlap, which causes risks for conflict, but potentially also suggests integration and synergy opportunities. Based on geographic information system (GIS) analyses of geographically delineated national interests regulated in the Swedish Environmental Code, including, amongst others, Natura 2000, contiguous mountains, recreation, reindeer husbandry, and wind power, and based on forestry as a dominating land use, we found extensive overlap among similar but also between dissimilar types of interest. In some mountain municipalities, our results show that the designated national interest area is four times as large as the available terrestrial area. Moreover, the overlap is much higher in the alpine than in the boreal biome, and there is increasing designation for nature conservation and a decreasing designation for national interests for culture, recreation, and tourism from south to north. We interpret the results with reference to multiple-use needs and opportunities for landscape approaches to sustainable planning. Departing from biodiversity conservation values, we also discuss opportunities to focus planning strategies on assessing synergy, integration, and conflict based on nature-based and place-based land-use characteristics.
... Under the prevailing dynamics of increasingly rapid environmental changes, conservation strategies must be under constant review to ensure that they continue to conserve biodiversity in the long-term (Alagador et al., 2014;Araújo et al., 2011;Hermoso et al., 2017). The Aichi Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity -2020(CBD, 2010 and Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG, 2018) require the regular, systematic assessment of the adequacy of international networks of PAs (Alagador et al., 2014;Mawdsley, 2011;Orlikowska et al., 2016). Given ongoing climate change-driven changes in the abundance and range of many species, there is debate about the effectiveness of protected area networks to conserve the species (and habitats) that they are designated to conserve (Hole et al., 2009;Johnston et al., 2013;Thomas et al., 2012). ...
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Migratory waterbirds require an effectively conserved cohesive network of wetland areas throughout their range and life-cycle. Under rapid climate change, protected area (PA) networks need to be able to accommodate climate driven range shifts in wildlife if they are to continue to be effective in the future. Thus, we investigated geographical variation in the relationship between local temperature anomaly and the abundance of 61 waterbird species during the wintering season across Europe and North Africa during 1990-2015. We also compared the spatio-temporal effects on abundance of sites designated as PAs, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), both, or neither designation (Unlisted). Waterbird abundance was positively correlated with temperature anomaly , with this pattern being strongest towards north and east Europe. Waterbird abundance was higher inside IBAs, whether they were legally protected or not. Trends in waterbird abundance were also consistently more positive inside both protected and unprotected IBAs across the whole study region, and were positive in Unlisted wetlands in southwestern Europe and North Africa. These results suggest that IBAs are important sites for wintering waterbirds, but also that populations are shifting to unprotected wetlands (some of which are IBAs). Such IBAs may, therefore, represent robust candidate sites to expand the network of legally protected wetlands under climate change in northeastern Europe. These results underscore the need for monitoring to understand how the effectiveness of site networks is changing under climate change.
... There are several policy measures with the potential to mitigate the negative biodiversity effects of the above instruments, such as the "Cross-compliance" system and other eligibility conditions, voluntary agri-environmental measures (AEM) and additional income support to marginal areas (LFA) (Matthews, 2013). Moreover, EU Member States have designated the Natura 2000 network of protected areas to conserve the most threatened species and habitat types (Orlikowska et al., 2016). Higher proportions of agricultural land enrolled into AEM or designated as Natura 2000 sites have both been associated with slower population decreases of some farmland birds (Gamero et al., 2017). ...
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The paper investigates the relative influence of landscape characteristics, production intensity and the EU’s Common agricultural policy interventions on the diversity of farmland birds. For this purpose, data from the Farmland Bird Monitoring Scheme in Slovenia and high spatial resolution data from the national agricultural databases in the period 2008–2019 were analysed with the Boosted Regression Trees (BRT). The diversity of farmland birds was found to be highest in open, diversely cropped and extensively to moderately intensively managed landscapes in Natura 2000 sites where farm holdings were allocated a low average amount of both direct payments and payments for agri-environmental measures (AEM) and organic farming (OF). Furthermore, the highest diversity of the subgroup of grassland specialists was associated with very open and extensively managed grassland landscapes with low stocking density (<0.7 LU/ha). By contrast, the diversity of habitat generalists was highest in heterogeneous landscapes with a high diversity of land-use types, measured at the broader spatial scale. Areas with a higher allocation of direct payments and payments for AEM and OF were associated with lower farmland bird diversity, whereas high diversity was found in Natura 2000 sites and in some areas with natural constraints (LFA). Agri-environmental measures and the “Greening” measures had a negligible relative influence on bird diversity, possibly due to ineffective implementation and low uptake by beneficiaries. The intensification of production, particularly in the beef and dairy sectors, which has been supported by the Common agricultural policy direct payments, and forest succession in marginal areas were identified as the potential key drivers of the recent farmland biodiversity loss in Slovenia. The future CAP income support schemes should be redesigned to ensure at least neutral if not positive overall effects on farmland biodiversity by gradual phasing-out of references to (historic) production levels, increased conditionality and more effective voluntary agri-environmental measures.
... This approach to the problem is a response to the need for biodiversity conservation actions to be tailored to biogeographic conditions as suggested by Gustafsson et al. (2015). According to Rattisab, Dobrovolskic, Talebid, and Loyolae (2018) small or even regional scale actions may have negative consequences for the conservation of species and habitats that are dependent on large-scale patterns and processes which has become increasingly prominent in recent years, but as yet is under-utilized in Natura 2000 research (Orlikowska, Roberge, Blicharska, & Mikusiński, 2016). Moreover, such an approach would foster more cross-scale cooperation in the practical management of the network, a process that is necessary for attaining conservation goals in large-scale initiatives (Guerrero, Mcallister, & Wilson, 2015;Gustafsson et al., 2015). ...
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This paper discusses resources of peatland habitat of high nature conservation importance as defined by the European Community, specifically in Poland, as a case study. The study covers eight habitat types distinguished in Natura 2000: raised bogs, mires, fen habitats (sphagnum acid bogs: 7110, 7120, 7140, 7150, calcareous fens: 7210, 7220, 7230 and bog woodlands: 91D0), occurring in 806 Special Areas of Conservation in Poland. The overall state of the habitat types, their threats, pressures, and activities, as well as their potential for restoration, was based on detailed analyses of data from Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) reports for the Natura 2000 network (N2000): Standard Data Forms, management plans, own verification in the terrain, and monitoring from the period 2006‒2018. Of the 2377 km² total area of peatland habitat covered by N2000 in Poland, only 13.8 % represents favorable status (FV), while as much as 80.2 % was classified as of unfavorable inadequate (U1) or unfavorable bad status (U2). The most significant threats to bog habitats in the continental bioregion result from human-induced changes in hydraulic conditions that have modified whole natural systems. Based on multivariate analysis (PCA), we found that significant differences in the conservation status of the bog habitats resulted from a variety of threats, pressures, and activities, among which the most significant are pollution from agriculture (7220, 7230), decreased and unstable water resources (7110, 7120, 7140, 7150, 7210, 7220, 7230, 91D0), drying up (7120, 7150), peat extraction (7120), changes in plant species composition (7120, 7140, 7230), succession of invasive species (7150), problematic native species (91D0), and more intense visitor pressure (7140). The most impacted habitats are 7230 petrifying springs with tufa formation (Cratoneurion). The examined habitats have potential for restoration. Our findings prove that successful conservation programs for peatland habitats of the continental bioregion should be undertaken to protect and preserve their direct and indirect surroundings. A list of recommendations for treatments to be included in habitat conservation programs is presented.
... Their long life spans, slow migration responses, and the fragmentation of landscapes impede necessary distribution shifts to follow suitable climate (e.g., Honnay et al., 2002;Lindner et al., 2014;Milad, Schaich, Bürgi, & Konold, 2011;Renwick & Rocca, 2015;Zhu, Woodall, & Clark, 2012). We argue that the spatial responses of forest habitat types to climatic changes have not received enough attention in research despite their high climate-sensitivity, large share within Natura 2000 areas, and important role as carbon sinks (EEA, 2016;Orlikowska, Roberge, Blicharska, & Mikusiński, 2016). Studies on climate change impacts on European forests have either focussed on individual tree species (Buras & Menzel, 2019;Dyderski, Paź, Frelich, & Jagodziński, 2018;Frejaville, Fady, Kremer, Ducousso, & Garzon, 2019) or, less frequently, on regional forest ecosystems (Hester, Britton, Hewison, Ross, & Potts, 2019;Lehsten et al., 2015). ...
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AIM: Due to their longevity and structure, forest ecosystems are particularly affected by climate change with consequences for their biodiversity, functioning, and services to mankind. In the European Union (EU), natural and seminatural forests are protected by the Habitats Directive and the Natura 2000 network. This study aimed to assess the exposure of three legally defined forest habitat types to climate change, namely (a) Tilio‐Acerion forests of slopes, screes, and ravines (9180*), (b) bog woodlands (91D0*), and (c) alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (91E0*). We analyzed possible changes in their Bavarian distribution, including their potential future coverage by Natura 2000 sites. We hypothesized that protected areas (PAs) with larger elevational ranges will remain suitable for the forests as they allow for altitudinal distribution shifts. METHODS: To estimate changes in range size and coverage by PAs, we combined correlative species distribution models (SDMs) with spatial analyses. Ensembles of SDM‐algorithms were applied to two climate change scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) of the HadGEM2‐ES model for the period 2061–2080. RESULTS: Our results revealed that bog woodlands experience the highest range losses (>2/3) and lowest PA coverage (max. 15% of sites with suitable conditions). Tilio‐Acerion forests exhibit opposing trends depending on the scenario, while alluvial forests are less exposed to climatic changes. As expected, the impacts of climate change are more pronounced under the “business as usual” scenario (RCP8.5). Additionally, PAs in flat landscapes are more likely to lose environmental suitability for currently established forest habitat types. MAIN CONCLUSIONS: Based on these findings, we advocate the expansion of the Natura 2000 network particularly in consideration of elevational gradients, connectivity, and projected climatic suitability. Nonclimatic stressors on forest ecosystems, especially bog woodlands, should be decreased and climate change mitigation efforts enhanced. We recommend transferring the approach to other habitat types and regions.
... Changes to their surrounding environment influence their physical, chemical, and biotic characteristics, leading to chain reactions in numerous processes and services (Elliott, Jones, & Thackeray, 2006). The Natura 2000 network is a multinational initiative forming the cornerstone of the conservation policy of the European Union (EU) (Evans, 2012;Opermanis, MacSharry, Aunins, & Sipkova, 2012 Scientific interest in the inland water ecosystems encompassed by the Natura 2000 network is increasing (Orlikowska, Roberge, Blicharska, & Mikusiński, 2016). Several recent studies have highlighted notable conservation gaps of these valuable ecosystems (Adams et al., 2015;Jantke, Schleupner, & Schneider, 2011). ...
Article
Protected areas represent the main tool for halting the continuing loss of biological diversity. The number and extent of protected areas is gradually increasing, but this expansion does not always ensure the efficient protection of key species, habitats, and ecosystem functioning. Today, the Natura 2000 network encompasses more than 27 000 sites, representing the cornerstone of conservation strategies throughout Europe. About one‐fifth of the terrestrial surface of the European Union (EU) is now covered by the Natura 2000 network; yet, knowledge remains limited about its efficiency to encompass inland water ecosystems sufficiently. This study aimed to determine the extent to which the Natura 2000 network covers 5132 European lakes that host fish species and freshwater lake habitat types of conservation interest. A key question investigated was whether the protection coverage of the water bodies reflects the coverage of the terrestrial areas surrounding the lakes. Geographical, socio‐economic, and political parameters were considered as potential descriptors of the observed patterns. The results demonstrated that although most of these sensitive ecosystems have high protection coverage at water body level, Natura 2000 largely ignores their surroundings. At the catchment level, lower conservation coverage was detected, raising concerns about whether the network offers sufficient protection to wetland species, habitats, and ecosystem functioning against numerous threats operating in the terrestrial areas surrounding water bodies. The results also identified different patterns of coverage in different EU Member States, which might reflect a lack of common practices regarding the implementation of key EU directives. This study highlighted the necessity of redefining conservation planning towards a systematic, integrated approach. The spatial properties of the landscape and the distribution of potential pressures should be considered at the catchment level of water bodies, as these pressures alter the functionality and services of inland water ecosystems.
... Only a few studies have examined the impacts of climate change on protected areas Fois et al. 2018). The Natura 2000 habitat network is the most important initiative at the European level that is working to counteract rapid biodiversity loss (Orlikowska et al. 2016). The network includes areas of high current nature conservation value, with the clear target of protecting the current biodiversity in the long term even under changing climatic conditions. ...
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At the European level, the Natura 2000 habitat network is the main instrument for preserving and protecting species and habitats. However, protected areas are fixed in location, and environmental conditions continually subject to change. Changing conditions force species to shift their geographic distribution or to adapt to new conditions, ultimately causing a change in the composition of the habitats’ species. We modelled the response of two important alpine EU habitat types (6150, 6170) in the Styrian Eastern Alps to increasing temperatures using two representative concentration pathways (rcp 4.5 and rcp 8.5) of the regional climate model CCLM4-8-17 CLMcom. Our results confirmed that climate change within the next several decades will have an immediate and profound impact on the Alpine flora and their habitats. The niche models indicate a dramatic reduction in the habitat suitability of 15 habitat diagnostic species before the end of the twenty-first century. Habitat change was found to be slower inside protected areas in the first half of the twenty-first century, while in the second half of the twenty-first century, suitable habitat conditions either remained constant for the lower temperature scenario (rcp 4.5) or shifted to “outside” current protected areas in the severe scenario (rcp 8.5). Regions of rapidly changing habitat suitability and subsequently shifting species composition can be found both inside and outside of the protected area network. These developments may lead to the deterioration of the conservation status of habitat types and challenge the aims of the EU habitat directive.
... A relatively large portion of the ecological research on the Natura 2000 network has focused on a few (or a single) species within one or a few sites (Orlikowska et al., 2016). In spite of the fact that the Natura 2000 network spans the European continent, the majority of studies were conducted within regions at the sub-national level ( Popescu et al., 2014). ...
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This paper discusses threats of standing water habitats of high importance to the European Community in the Continental Biogeographical Region (CBR) of Europe, specifically in Poland, as a reference. The study covers five standing water habitats types distinguished in Natura 2000: 3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, 3160, occurring in 806 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in Poland. The most significant threats to standing water habitats in the Continental biogeographical region, result from human-induced changes in hydrological conditions that have modified whole natural systems. Based on multivariate analysis, we found that significant differences in the conservation status of the standing water habitats resulted from a variety of threats, pressures, and activities, among which the most significant are decreased and unstable water resources (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, 3160), fishing and harvesting aquatic resources (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, 3160), pollution from use of the catchment (3130, 3140, 3150), improper management and use of the agricultural catchment (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, 3160) and forest catchment (3110, 3140, 3160), urbanisation, residential and commercial development (3150, 3140), transportation and service corridors (3140> 3160 > 3110, 3150), including parking areas (3140), changes in biocenotic evolution, succession, plant species composition (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, 3160), succession of invasive species (3130), and more intense touristic exploration (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, 3160). Only in the case of habitats 3110, 3130, 3140 changes in their conservation status have been associated with climate change.
... Considering also nationally designated PAs that are not part of Natura 2000, more than 26.3% of the EU's terrestrial area is already protected (UNEP-WCMC and IUCN 2019). Therefore, the EU considers its terrestrial Natura 2000 network nearly complete (Orlikowska et al. 2016). However, neither the EU's terrestrial (Müller et al. 2018) nor the marine (European Environment Agency 2018b) PA network is fully ecologically representative, and visions such as Half-Earth would require adopting more ambitious PA-coverage targets. ...
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The Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) strategic plan will expire in 2020, but biodiversity loss is ongoing. Scientists call for more ambitious targets in the next agreement. The nature-needs-half movement, for example, has advocated conserving half of Earth to solve the biodiversity crisis, which has been translated to protecting 50% of each ecoregion. We evaluated current protection levels of ecoregions in the territory of one of the CBD's signatories, the European Union (EU). We also explored the possible enlargement of the Natura 2000 network to implement 30% or 50% ecoregion coverage in the EU member states' protected area (PA) network. Based on the most recent land-use data, we examined whether ecoregions have enough natural area left to reach such high coverage targets. We used a spatially explicit mixed integer programing model to estimate the least-cost expansion of the PA network based on 3 scenarios that put different emphasis on total conservation cost, ecological representation of ecosystems, or emphasize an equal share of the burden among member states. To realize 30% and 50% ecoregion coverage, the EU would need to add 6.6% and 24.2%, respectively, of its terrestrial area to its PA network. For all 3 scenarios, the EU would need to designate most recommended new PAs in seminatural forests and other semi- or natural ecosystems. Because 15 ecoregions did not have enough natural area left to implement the ecoregion-coverage targets, some member states would also need to establish new PAs on productive land, allocating the largest share to arable land. Thirty percent ecoregion coverage was met by protecting remaining natural areas in all ecoregions except 3, where productive land would also need to be included. Our results support discussions of higher ecoregions protection targets for post-2020 biodiversity frameworks. © 2020 The Authors. Conservation Biology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology.
... Large-scale conservation agreements have been initiated to protect migratory species at a supranational level, e.g., Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (EEC, 1992), Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (UNEP, 2016) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Council of Europe, 1982;Kark et al., 2015). Except for the European Union Natura 2000 network (hereafter N2K) (EC, 2016;Orlikowska et al., 2016) the coordinated implementation of these initiatives is generally lacking. The N2K is the world's largest network of protected areas and covers 18% of the 28 EU member states' land (EC, 2016). ...
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Protected areas are important to support biodiversity and endangered species. However, they are often too small to fulfill the resource requirements of many large and mobile wildlife species, especially when congregating in large numbers. In such cases, wildlife may overflow onto surrounding human-dominated land and cause impacts. The aim of the EU Natura 2000 network is to increase supranational connectivity between protected areas for migratory and protected species such as the common crane (Grus grus). The crane population along the Western European flyway has been increasing rapidly in recent decades, with peaks of 200,000 cranes at specific Natura 2000 sites. We studied 32 GPS-tagged cranes over four migration periods, to test the use of the network by cranes and the potential for impacts on adjacent farmland. During the nighttime, the probability that roosting cranes were located on Natura 2000 sites was 97%. During daytime, the probability of foraging cranes being located on arable land was 68%. The probability of foraging cranes occurring on agricultural fields close to Natura 2000 sites decreased with distance. Such foraging patterns may fuel conflicts between conservation and agricultural objectives. To resolve these conflicts we suggest improved cross-boundary collaboration and policy development among involved states, combined with stakeholder participation to implement effective compensation and damage prevention strategies which are focused upon networks of protected areas.
... Particularly, it enlarges the spatial scale over which habitat dynamics can be related for monitoring temporal changes in the distribution of habitats. This fulfils the present challenge to overcome gaps in ecological research for protected area networks(Orlikowska et al., 2016), particularly ...
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Aim The management of habitats for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity in protected area networks requires an appropriate monitoring to increase our understanding of processes and dynamics in managed ecosystems. Remote sensing offers a unique potential for the derivation of coherent spatiotemporal information to report on natural or management‐induced habitat change. However, the methods used for the delineation of habitat types in remote sensing imagery depend on the extensive process of ground truth sampling as reference to construct image classifiers. In fact, the number of required reference samples is intrinsically unknown in complex scenes due to the heterogeneity of varying habitat conditions. Thus, most classifiers are not transferable in retrospective image analysis or between different ecosystems that is, however, required for an operational use of remote sensing‐based monitoring systems. Innovation A new procedure is introduced that autonomously generates representative reference samples for a predictive modelling of habitat type probabilities. The procedure, termed Habitat Sampler, is provided as a tool that can be applied to any image input that display vegetation structures and dynamics on multiple temporal and spatial scales. The Habitat Sampler provides many labelled point locations for the training of image classifiers and enables a fast and easy to implement model transfer for the delineation of habitat dynamics in various ecosystems. Main conclusions The Habitat Sampler outperforms standard machine learning classifiers when the distribution of reference samples is unknown or insufficient. It was shown that particularly in retrospective image analyses patterns of successional and cyclic habitat development can be mapped for large heathland areas. The procedure is feasible for application in biodiversity conservation monitoring using various habitat typologies that are associated over ecosystem processes, particularly to report on protected area networks using cost‐free satellite imagery.
... Therefore, there is an urgent need to better comprehend how climate change drives invasive species distributions (Bellard et al., 2018), so that preventive measures can be established accordingly. For instance, Orlikowska et al. (2016) suggested that lack of modelling studies limits insight enabling adequate management of potential impacts of invasive species in protected areas. Although there is no shortage of climate change modelling studies in general, there is a generalized lack of empirical evidence on the reliability of their predictions (cf. ...
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Aim Invasive alien species (IAS) can cause profound impacts on ecosystem function and diversity, human health, well-being and livelihoods. Climate change is an important driver of biological invasions, so it is critical to develop models and climate-driven scenarios of IAS range shifts to establish preventive measures. In this study, we analyse how projected changes in the frequency and magnitude of climate extreme events could affect the spread of the six most widely distributed invasive vertebrate species in the Iberian Peninsula. Location Iberian Peninsula. Taxa Red avadavat (Amandava amandava), common waxbill (Estrilda astrild), monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus), rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), American mink (Neovison vison) and pond slider (Trachemys scripta). Methods We followed best-practice standards for species distribution models (SDMs) regarding handling of the response and predictor variables, model building and evaluation using metrics that assess different facets of model performance. We used an ensemble approach with four modelling methods of varying complexity, including both regression-based and tree-based machine-learning algorithms. We analysed five regional models for current (1971–2000) and future climate (2021–2050). We used principal components analysis to assess consensus among model outputs and positively weighed predictions from well-performing models. Results Selected models showed high consensus and good predictive capacity on block cross-validation areas. Generalized Linear Models and Generalized Additive Models scored highest in reliability (calibration), but Bayesian Additive Regression Trees provided the best balance between calibration and discrimination capacity. Forecasts include visible changes in environmental favourability, with losses generally outweighing the gains, but with some areas becoming more favourable for several species. Main conclusions Increased frequency and/or intensity of climate extreme events associated with ongoing climate change are projected to reduce overall invasion risk for the species examined although increases in favourability should be expected locally.
... The study was conducted within three km of the tributary zone of Ž elivka Reservoir (49 • 57 ′ 90 ′ ' N, 15 • 25 ′ 14 ′ ' E, 1602 ha, maximum water level of 381.7 m above sea level) in the Czech Republic. The study site harbours the largest asp population within the country and is protected in selected areas of the European Union under the Habitats Directive, Natura 2000 (Orlikowska et al., 2016). Fish were individually tagged with passive integrated transponder tags (PIT tags; Oregon RFID; half-duplex; length: 32 mm; diameter: 3.65 mm; weight: 0.8 g; ISO 11784/11785 compatible), and their survival and estimates of population viability were monitored yearly since 2014 as part of a conservation programme. ...
Article
Animal behaviour interacts with various relationships within biota, and its variation among individuals may cause bias in behavioural research because of its impact on sampling efficiency. In this study, we simultaneously recorded fish behaviour during the reproductive season by passive telemetry and sampled a fish population using an active sampling method by boat electrofishing. A total of 1479 individuals of the cyprinid fish asp (Leuciscus aspius) were tagged, and their reproductive behaviour was recorded using passive telemetry systems in 2015–2020. We investigated whether capture probability was related to fish behaviour during reproduction (length of spawning, number of individual visits to spawning grounds, proportion of time spawning, arrival date and average daily arrival time). Overall, males were more likely to be captured than females (30 ± 4% standard error (SE) vs. 20 ± 3% SE probability) when present in the area. Traits favouring the odds of being captured differed between sexes and included the length of presence, proportion of time invested in spawning and average daily arrival time in males; in females, the capture probability was related to the length of presence and arrival date. This study suggests that even a large sample obtained using active gear may not represent the entire population’s behaviour because of behavioural-related bias in a population.
... Contrary, study by Lovrenčić et al. (2020) that evaluated representation of the stone crayfish (Austropotamobius torrentium) by protected areas in Croatia, revealed its much greater coverage compared to the results of this study. The effectiveness of the protected areas, especially Natura 2000 network, in fulfilling their role of protecting biodiversity has been evaluated through gap analysis in numerous studies at global or regional scales with the varying outcomes VeroVniK et al., 2011;gruber et al., 2012;bagella et al., 2013;abellan & SanChez-Fer-nanDez, 2015;Maiorano et al., 2015;orliKowSKa et al., 2016;yang et al., 2020;ahMaDi et al., 2020;Spiliopoulou et al., 2021). Some studies reported great effectiveness of protected areas and/or Natura 2000 in safeguarding various groups on the European level, such as butterflies (VeroVniK et al., 2011), birds of prey (MazariS et al., 2013), plants (FoiS et al., 2017, and freshwater crayfish (Lovrenčić et al., 2020). ...
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The noble crayfish is a native European freshwater species, endangered due to the strong anthro-pogenic influence on its habitats, climate change, and invasive crayfish species. In the present study, we aimed to assess the effectiveness of nationally designated protected areas and the pan-European Natura 2000 network in representing and maintaining over time the noble crayfish diversity using a comprehensive species occurrence dataset. Overall, our gap analysis indicated moderate efficiency of the existing protected areas in covering the noble crayfish diversity. Overlapping the distribution map of the noble crayfish with the map of protected areas revealed that protected areas encompass 50% of recorded populations. This study can serve as an evaluation of the protected areas in conservation of this key freshwater crayfish species.
... High anthropogenic pressure faces ecosystems across the continent [33][34][35]. The current dearth of broad-scale modelling approaches to analyse anthropogenic pressures in and around European PAs severely limits our understanding of effective biodiversity conservation on a continental scale [36]. ...
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Habitat loss from anthropogenic development has led to an unprecedented decline in global biodiversity. Protected areas (PAs) exist to counteract this degradation of ecosystems. In the European Union, the Natura 2000 (N2k) network is the basis for continent-wide conservation efforts. N2k is the world’s largest coordinated network of protected areas. However, threats to ecosystems do not stop at the borders of PAs. As measured by a landscape fragmentation metric, anthropogenic development can affect the interiors of PAs. To ensure the long-term viability of the N2k network of PAs, this paper attempts to quantify the degree to which N2k sites are insulated from development pressures. We use a comprehensive dataset of effective mesh density ( seff ) to measure aggregate fragmentation inside and within a 5 km buffer surrounding N2k sites. Our results show a strong correlation (R² = 0.78) between fragmentation ( seff ) within and around N2k sites. This result applies to all biogeographical regions in Europe. Only a narrow majority (58.5%) of N2k sites are less fragmented than their surroundings. Remote and mountainous regions in northern Europe, the Alps, parts of Spain, and parts of eastern Europe show the lowest levels of fragmentation. These regions tend to hold the largest N2k sites as measured by area. In contrast, central and western Europe show the highest fragmentation levels within and around N2k sites. 24.5% of all N2k sites are classified as highly to very-highly fragmented. N2k PA age since initial protection does not correlate with the difference in exterior and interior fragmentation of N2k PAs. These results indicate that PAs in Europe are not sheltered from anthropogenic pressures leading to fragmentation. Hence, we argue that there is a high potential for improving PA efficacy by taking pre-emptive action against encroaching anthropogenic fragmentation and by targeting scarce financial resources where fragmentation pressures can be mitigated through enforced construction bans inside PAs.
... Grasslands are important ecosystems that support high levels of biodiversity, but they are being threatened by anthropogenic land-use changes (Tilman et al. 1996;Bradford et al. 2002;Kordbacheh et al. 2019) and climate change (O'Mara 2012; Orlikowska et al. 2016). Researchers interested in grassland conservation are developing ways to re-integrate biodiverse grasslands into agricultural landscapes. ...
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Ants in temperate grasslands are consumers and ecosystem engineers, influencing biodiversity and potentially grassland productivity. However, the effects of ant exclusion or suppression on resource removal and the biological community in temperate grasslands have yet to be fully explored. We conducted ant-suppression experiments and evaluated the effects of ants on ground-dwelling arthropod communities in the field by using pitfall and bait traps. In the laboratory, we evaluated the effects of ants on the ant-attended aphid Aphis rumicis, which is a honeydew resource for ants, and the slug (Deroceras laeve), an aphid predator. Aboveground arthropod communities were not affected by the ant-suppression treatment. However, slugs (D. laeve and Ambigolimax valentianus) visited bait resources more frequently in the ant-suppression treatment area. In the ant-absence condition in the laboratory experiment, there were fewer aphids on the plants compared to the ant-presence condition owing to predation by D. laeve. Our results suggest that ant abundance in temperate grasslands influences the predation activity of slugs toward honeydew sources such as aphids.
... Accessibility to such species may also have allowed researchers to easily collect data on species listed as Least Concern. A review by Orlikowska et al. (2016) noted that the ecological research is often focused on Red Listed species, demonstrating an emphasis on species of conservation concern. ...
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Nepal is a global biodiversity hotspot, supporting 213 mammal species with diverse habitats across various landscape types, from the lowland Terai to the high Himalayas. Studies of Nepal’s mammalian fauna are not evenly distributed and better understanding of past biases towards some species, research themes and locations can provide better strategic direction for future research investments. Therefore, we reviewed 575 scientific articles on mammals in Nepal, published between 2000 and 2019 and compiled these in March 2020, to examine trends, patterns and gaps, and pave future plans for mammalian research in Nepal. A positive increase in the number of publications (β = 0.27 ± 0.02SD, P < 0.00) was observed, with a more than threefold increase between 2010 and 2019 compared to 2000–2009 (t = − 6.26, df = 12.21, P < 0.000). Analysis of these documents revealed that mammalian researches favored large flagship, threatened species of carnivores inside Nepal’s protected area system. Geographically, mammalian research was not uniform in Nepal, as most studies were concentrated in Bagmati Province and in the Terai and Chure region. Baseline surveys and ecological studies were more common types of research, while studies on the impact of climate change and wildlife trade and poaching, are scant, which deserves a future look. While these studies shape current mammalogy in Nepal, studies of small, uncharismatic species, and in areas outside protected areas and other provinces except Bagmati, Lumbini and Province One are severely lacking. The research identified habitat loss, degradation and human-wildlife conflict as the major threats to the survival of mammalian species in Nepal. Therefore, redesigning and strict implementation of policies based on habitat management and human-wildlife co-existence, including other threat mitigation measures, are warranted. To address knowledge gaps, the prioritization of future research and funding should be focused on relatively unexplored research themes and under-researched provinces. This approach will help to re-align the research focus with the current need, and assist to fully understand and effectively conserve the wealth of mammalian diversity that Nepal holds.
... Other EU structural funds and the LIFE programme can be utilised as well (Kettunen et al., 2017). These instruments can be used to supplement national budgets and might be particularly valuable in the regions of high conservation priority and with substantial knowledge gaps (Hermoso et al., 2017;Orlikowska et al., 2016;Sutcliffe et al., 2015). In addition, research initiatives that develop EU-wide and regional databases and monitoring guidelines, provide knowledge sharing and pilot new measures in several Member States should be promoted. ...
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In this study, we explored the potential of the payment-by-results approach in supporting the maintenance of High Nature Value (HNV) grasslands in a typical HNV farming system and Natura 2000 site in Slovenia (Europe) with a high share of small farms, fragmented land ownership and long-term process of land abandonment. We tested the applicability of a hypothetical result-based scheme (RBS) for the conservation of dry grasslands and a set of associated plant indicators, and identified key obstacles to its implementation. Based on a statistical analysis of a survey with 263 farmers and a thematic data analysis of 62 farmer interviews and 10 in-depth interviews and focus groups with researchers, public officials and agricultural advisors, we found that a majority of both farmers and experts support the introduction of RBSs. The selected plant indicators were well-known among the local farmers and monitoring of their presence was preferred over the current system, which demands keeping records on the implementation of farming practices. However, although the RBSs seem to be a superior alternative to the current management-based schemes, their introduction might not be enough to ensure HNV farming systems' successful conservation. Our results indicate a lack of institutional capacity to implement RBSs on a larger scale, particularly in terms of data support and qualified staff in the advisory service and monitoring agencies. Furthermore, experience to date and mistrust among stakeholders indicate a questionable ability and motivation of authorities to develop locally-based, flexible and innovative agri-environmental measures. RBSs alone also do not adequately address some of the root causes for the disappearance of HNV grasslands, particularly: the lack of knowledge regarding the appropriate modern farming system(s) to ensure their sustainable management in line with conservation goals; specific needs of small farmers; and the need for a socially acceptable land policy reform to enable easier access to land. We argue that systematic investment in closing the existing data and research gaps as well as in increasing the capacity of key institutions at the national and local levels are needed, particularly in European regions of high conservation priority. Furthermore, better integration of nature conservation in different rural policies and a holistic developmental approach in (remote) rural areas are necessary to prevent further abandonment of HNV farming and enable the adoption of biodiversity-friendly farming models.
... Given the HD legal framework, the question arises as to whether non-listed species can receive "incidental protection" (sensu Evans, 2012) through measures targeting legally protected biodiversity components (the so-called 'umbrella' effect; Brooks et al., 2004). This question has already been asked for various non-Annex species and species groups that have been assigned a threatened status (e.g. according to IUCN), and is usually dealt with by examining if and how much of their distribution overlaps with N2K sites (Abellán & Sánchez-Fernández, 2015;D'Amen et al., 2013;Maiorano et al., 2015;Morán-López, Cortés Gañán, Uceda Tolosa, & Sánchez Guzmán, 2020;Trochet & Schmeller, 2013;Van der Sluis et al., 2016;Orlikowska et al., 2016;Pellissier et al., 2020;Rosso et al., 2018). These studies have provided contrasting results. ...
Article
Europe’s Natura 2000 network, based on the EU Birds and Habitat Directives, has rapidly expanded protected areas targeting species and habitat types. In Greece, 52.4% of native freshwater fish are considered as species of EU community interest within the Habitats Directive (HD). However 31.3% of all threatened fish species at a global level and 32.0% at national level, are not included in the Habitat Directives Annex lists. Fishes in Greece’s rivers are understudied, precise knowledge of their distributions is poor for most species. We utilize a large set of site-based electrofishing samples to explore the coverage of these species by the country’s Natura 2000 sites. Field surveys recorded 102 species inhabiting rivers within 645 sampling sites. Although the majority of HD listed, threatened and endemic range-restricted freshwater fish species exist within the current N2K network, important gaps are evident and four HD species were not found within any Natura 2000 sites. In analyzing fish densities from field sampling, only two upland-stream species, Salmo farioides and Barbus strumicae, show significantly higher abundance inside N2K sites. Applying a Combined Index utilizing IUCN vulnerability status, species rarity and richness, we identified 161 hotspot sites for riverine fishes; 50.9 % of all hotspots are located outside of N2K network, especially in lowland areas. Unprotected hotspot areas, with a high concentration of hotspots are mapped; the river basins with the highest number of such unprotected hotspots belong to the Strymonas, Pinios, Evrotas and Aoos rivers. With concern for the EU’s revised biodiversity conservation strategy, our screening level assessment provides insights for unmet conservation needs and the method is readily transferable to other states and protected area jurisdictions.
... Conservation policies and management continue to be hampered by inadequate and/or obsolete scientific knowledge (Orlikowska et al., 2016). Even basic research was limited on small wetlands, temporary wetlands, and most artificial wetlands. ...
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• Wetlands are some of the most important ecosystems on Earth. They play a key role in mitigating climate change-related events and filtering polluted water, and provide habitats for a wide range of species. Despite their importance, and numerous regulations that support their conservation, wetlands continue to be destroyed. Recent reports have indicated a progressive decline in ecological character of remaining wetlands. • This research reviews and extends the present status of wetland knowledge in Sardinia, the second largest Mediterranean island. For the first time, Sardinian wetlands were comprehensively mapped using satellite images and field validation. Impacts were also assessed. Trends in literature published about Sardinian wetlands since 1900 were then analysed, mainly according to the location(s) and topic(s) studied. • In total, 2,501 Sardinian wetland sites were identified. The most common impacts observed in the field were vegetative degradation and water pollution. Of these wetlands, 2,274 have never been the subject of a research paper. Despite recent increases in publication rates, there was a lack of even basic knowledge about many wetlands, especially smaller ones. Larger wetlands have been studied from a range of viewpoints. • In the light of these results, suggestions for improved awareness, effective management and conservation of Mediterranean wetlands were established. Future work should be directed to filling gaps in basic information, and to improvements in research and conservation, which might include multidisciplinary approaches in support of more comprehensive conservation management plans.
... The network includes Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated under the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under the Habitats Directive 1992/43/EEC. The effectiveness of this network in representing biodiversity has been assessed in numerous studies at global or regional scales through gap analysis Jantke et al., 2011;Verovnik et al., 2011;Gruber et al., 2012;Bagella et al., 2013;Abellan & Sanchez-Fernandez, 2015;Maiorano et al., 2015;Orlikowska et al., 2016), and the outcomes of these studies vary. ...
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The stone crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium (Schrank, 1803) is a threatened native European freshwater crayfish species for which Natura 2000 network represents the most important conservation effort at the European level. In Croatia, there are altogether 25 Natura 2000 sites defined specifically for this species. In the present study, we aimed to assess the effectiveness of Natura 2000 sites in preserving stone crayfish diversity through gap analysis, a GIS-based approach that overlays species distribution data on a map of designated Natura 2000 sites. Our results showed that the existing Natura 2000 network in Croatia encompasses most of the areas with a high diversity of A. torrentium; currently designated sites harbour 73.3% of recorded A. torrentium populations. Future conservation planning efforts, and possible expansion of Natura 2000, should be focused on newly discovered A. torrentium populations that present divergent evolutionary lineages.
... To achieve this target, Europe must enlarge the number of marine areas devoted to conservation, also in the N2K network. However, numerous are the present limitations concerning the marine N2K sit efficacy in covering and safeguarding adequately the marine environment [7] [8], preventing the establishment of an effective protection network. The selection of marine N2K sites lacks a systematic procedure, which could clearly and effectively address marine conservation needs. ...
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The Natura 2000 (N2K) network is a key conservation instrument in Europe, despite its many limitations concerning the efficacy in covering and adequately safeguarding the marine environment, mainly due to missing coordinated Governance and Management Systems (GMS). In this study, we present and discuss the main benefits, which could be provided by Marine Ecological Observatories (MEOs) to support N2K marine network implementation and related GMS. The conceptual design of the ecological observatory ECOAdS, under development in the framework of the Interreg Italy-Croatia project ECOSS, is described. ECOAdS, which focuses on marine N2K sites under jurisdiction of Italy and Croatia, is a first operative pilot proposal of MEO for the Adriatic Sea. It represents an opportunity to build a common knowledge and monitoring framework and shared data management practices at the transnational level, overcoming the N2K site fragmentation. The main challenges that ECOAdS should face in its implementation are discussed, with emphasis on the integration of the marine connectivity aspects and on the adoption of adaptive and participative GMS to address the main conservation issues in the area.
... The Natura 2000 network of protected areas, the pillar of biodiversity conservation in Europe, is the largest of the very few coordinated nature conservation actions explicitly aimed at improving ecological connectivity at the continental scale (Campagnaro et al., 2019;European Commission, 2011;Orlikowska et al., 2016;Wurzel, 2008). The network is composed of protected Natura 2000 sites designated under the European Union (EU) Nature Directives: Birds Directive (79/409/EEC, repealed by the 2009/147/EC) and Habitats Directive (1992/43/EEC). ...
Article
The Natura 2000 network of protected sites is the pillar of biodiversity conservation in Europe. Although the Natura 2000 network directly addresses birds, these have shown worrying declining trends. It is therefore crucial to assess the potential contribution of Natura 2000 conservation measures. In this paper, we use a replicable method to model bird trends in the period 2000–2015 and the effects of Natura 2000 protection, across land cover classes, on regional abundances and local species richness and diversity. We model bird trends in Veneto, a North-Eastern Italian Region with areas among the richest in bird species in Italy. Bird data were derived from the national breeding bird monitoring scheme. Breeding birds showed declining trends at the regional level, confirming national and continental trends, particularly on agricultural and natural areas. The land cover class, rather than Natura 2000, mostly influenced population trends, however it was possible to observe slightly higher estimates of species richness and diversity in Natura 2000 sites. Despite the absolute higher estimates over the investigated period, farmland and woodland bird species had steeper declining trends inside Natura 2000 than outside, matching the values of diversity and richness of the areas outside the network at the end of the survey period. We conclude that the Natura 2000 network capacity to buffer biodiversity loss and act as a species-pool for non-protected areas is decreasing over time, mainly with regards to farmland and woodland birds. Natura 2000 implementation must be improved: management, monitoring and conservation measures should be better integrated into existing plans and funding should be made more efficiently available for Natura 2000 related expenditures.
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This Policy Brief succinctly presents the Ecological Observing System of the Adriatic Sea (ECOAdS), aimed at integrating the ecological and oceanographic dimensions within the conservation strategy of the Natura 2000 network, and to propose a way to go for its future development and maintenance. After a definition of marine ecological observatories, we describe the current structure of ECOAdS, its key components and potential relevance in relation to the main European strategies for biodiversity and marine observation for the next decade. Finally, we suggest some actions that could be undertaken for the future development of ECOAdS, targeting possible perspectives in different regional, macro-regional, national and European strategic contexts. This Policy Brief is one of the outcomes of the Interreg Italy-Croatia Project ECOSS (ECological Observing System in the Adriatic Sea: oceanographic observations for biodiversity; https://www.italy-croatia.eu/web/ecoss), which had the main purpose to design and carry out the first steps for the establishment of ECOAdS.
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Invasive Alien Species (IAS) represent a serious and growing threat to biodiversity and, in some cases, to human well-being. It is, therefore, appropriate to adopt preventive and more responsible behavior to reduce the introduction rates, in the most sensitive environments such as protected areas. However, once these species have settled in the new environment, their eradication or elimination becomes particularly difficult and economically expensive. In that framework, the concept of Circular Economy (CE) can offer an opportunity to reconsider IAS as a resource. IAS from something unwanted can be transformed into something advantageous that can be used as new raw materials opening economic possibilities and sustainable development. Examples of the circular economy and bioeconomy are suggested to exploit invasive species sustainably, thus guaranteeing both correct environmental management and socio-economic well-being.
Thesis
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The Anthropocene is characterised by unprecedented declines in nature causing the sixth mass extinction event in earth history. The main drivers of these immense deteriorations are human land use and anthropogenic climate change. A dilemma evolves because human welfare depends on the conservation of nature’s integrity. We profit from ecosystem functioning, goods and services, which are based on biodiversity. Moreover, species have the right to exist independent of their use for us. The use and existence values of nature motivate nature conservation. Global biodiversity hotspots are in focus of international conservation as they contain a rich inventory of species. Inventory diversity is, nevertheless, only one of three broad categories classifying diversity indices. Other diversity metrics that offer complementary information refer to differentiation or proportional diversity, and account for the dissimilarity between species assemblages. Effective biodiversity conservation contemplates multiple measures of species diversity as well as threats to biodiversity. Anthropogenic climate change is a major threat to biodiversity that inevitably affects the entire global land in multiple ways, not only hotspots of species diversity. The change in the magnitude, timing, position and availability of climate conditions exerts influence on the demography, phenology and range of species, with unknown consequences for ecosystems worldwide. Therefore, biodiversity conservation must be applied to large geographical extents, which is the foundation of conservation biogeography. Conservation biogeographers investigate protected areas as major tools to protect biodiversity because a high degree of biodiversity can hardly exist in unprotected landscapes that are intensively used by humans. Approximately 15% of global land is covered by protected areas. To overcome the many challenges emerging from anthropogenic pressures, protected areas need efficient and effective planning and management. Such planning and management often lacks the continuous availability of data on current states and trends of nature and threats, which can be delivered by in-situ monitoring, remote sensing and open data infrastructures. Since resources for planning and management are limited, conservationists prioritise conservation targets. Given the rising importance of protected areas owing to expanding human land use and increasing climate change, I address the effectiveness and efficiency of terrestrial protected areas in conserving biodiversity under anthropogenic threats through the six manuscripts of this thesis. I assign each manuscript to the scientific modules of an adaptive protected area management cycle. Adaptive protected area management is an auspicious concept to ensure the enduring effectiveness of protected areas under uncertain future developments. My manuscripts provide missing scientific foundations of adaptive protected area management. In Manuscript 1, I present a comprehensive quantification of the diversity of the European Union’s priority species within major protected areas in the European Union. This quantification of inventory, differentiation and proportional diversity informs protected area management of manifold metrics of species diversity to increase protected area management effectiveness from the local to the European extent. In Manuscript 2, I prove to what degree remote sensing signals (i.e. airborne Light Detection and Ranging data, and a time series of multispectral Sentinel-2 data) reflect the compositional dissimilarity of perennial plant communities on the protected island of La Palma, Canary Islands. This study fosters efficient monitoring of differentiation diversity by remote sensing techniques. Monitoring of the biotic and abiotic environment is a scientific prerequisite of adaptive protected area management. In Manuscript 3, I developed a method to optimise in-situ surveys of biodiversity, i.e. to maximise information content and minimise sampling effort. This approach enhances the efficiency of in-situ surveys, which is required under limited management resources, such as time and funds. As a case study, I analysed the inventory diversity of alpine grassland in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. I supply the data on this threatened vegetation type in an open data paper (Manuscript 4). Moreover, I show predicted changes in the availability of climate conditions (Manuscript 5) and the predicted magnitude of climate change (Manuscript 6) within the global terrestrial protected area estate for two alternative climate change scenarios in the year 2070. These two studies inform protected area management worldwide of the climate change impacts on biodiversity, to sustain protected area management effectiveness from the local to global extent. In addition, I aim at spreading this conservation-minded knowledge and data by providing open-source software and open data, and by open-access publishing. Consequently, this thesis advances the effectiveness and efficiency of protected areas in biodiversity conservation, mediated through adaptive protected area management. Filling biogeographical knowledge gaps, improving biogeographical forecasts and promoting biodiversity conservation by communicating research are permanent tasks for conservation biogeographers. The global biodiversity crisis can be solved by local conservation strategies worldwide that are internationally coordinated. Eventually, I consider the development of a global adaptive protected area management system the most favourable future perspective in conservation biogeography to stop nature’s declines and guarantee a sustainable future for the welfare of generations to come.
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In this paper, we discuss the threats to freshwater habitats that are highly important to the European Community in the Continental Biogeographical Region of Europe, specifically in Poland. The study covers nine freshwater habitat types distinguished in Natura 2000, Annex I of the Habitats Directive, which is a network of nature protection areas in the territory: standing water bodies (3110, 3130, 3140, 3150, and 3160) and running water (3260, 3220, 3240, and 3270), occurring in 806 Special Areas of Conservation in Poland. Of the 72,673 km² total area of freshwater habitat covered by Natura 2000 in Poland, only 25.70% was classified, from the period 2006‒2018, as favourable status, whereas 68.72% was classified as unfavourable inadequate or unfavourable bad status. Based on a multivariate analysis, we found that significant differences in the conservation status of freshwater habitats resulted from a variety of threats, pressures, and activities, among which the most significant are urbanization and residential and commercial development; transportation and service corridors; decreased and unstable water resources; fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources; agricultural pollution; improper management and use of the agricultural catchment and forest catchment; changes in biocenotic evolution, invasive species succession, and more intense touristic exploration. The changes in conservation status of habitats 3110, 3130, 3140, 3160, and 3260 are also associated with climate change. Taking into account the threats identified, a list of recommended practices for the freshwater habitat types is presented, to be considered in habitat conservation programmes.
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Aim Several ecological factors are predicted to affect beta diversity - the dissimilarity of communities among localities or through time. Considering the effect of primary productivity, there is a divergence in the literature concerning if it is positive, negative or hump-shaped. This is relevant considering the discussion on the role of primary productivity on deterministic and stochastic processes shaping ecological communities. The main goal of this study was to review ecological literature to explore causes for variation in the predominant relationship between beta diversity and primary productivity. Methods We have performed a scientometric analysis following the PRISMA statement for systematic reviews and the articles search was made through the ISI Web of Science® database. Results The number of articles approaching the relationship between beta diversity and primary productivity is growing more than expected by the natural growth in published articles. From the 465 articles found, only 38 directly dealt with beta diversity-productivity relationship. From them, we extracted 76 relationships, most of them positive, in almost all factors analyzed. Even so, the proportion of negative studies was higher in aquatic environments. In the Afrotropic region, only negative relationships in terrestrial studies were found. There is a clear inclination towards studies regarding large spatial scales, terrestrial environments, with vertebrates and in the Neartic or Paleartic regions. In aquatic environments there was a clear dominance of studies using small-body organisms, contrasting with terrestrial studies that used more often vertebrates and plants. Conclusions There is an increasing interest in studies concerning this relationship. Positive relations can be explained by several ecological factors, and the more common negative relationships in aquatic environments can be explained by the fact that productivity can cause eutrophication. We also pointed out gaps in the knowledge, especially considering studies in small and medium spatial scales, groups beyond plants and vertebrates in terrestrial environments, and aquatic studies in Afrotropic and Indo – Malaya regions.
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Background: Protected areas (PAs) are aimed to hold the environmental conditions that facilitate species and ecosystems to persist. PAs can become climatically unsuitable and unable to sustain their current number of species under climate change. The Natura 2000 (N2K) is the largest coordinated conservation tool assigned to maintain the long-term survival of Europe's most significant species and habitats. In attempting to understand the effectiveness of PAs in the face of climate change scenarios, we tested two hypotheses: (1) PAs in the Alpine and the Boreal biogeographical regions will experience more newly emerged climate conditions (hotter and drier) compared to the climate representation of other biogeographical regions under future climate in Europe and (2) PAs in the Mediterranean and the Continental biogeographical regions will face more consistency in climate conditions due to less area of disappearing and novel climate in future. Methods: Current climate data (1960-1990) and projections for 2050 and 2070 of PAs of N2K were extracted from WorldClim global climate data. Principal components analysis (PCA) was performed to construct climate space for the PAs across the biogeographical regions based on 19 climatic variables assessed at 5-km resolution. ArcMap 10.1 was used to map the location of the novel and disappearing climates. Results: PAs in the Alpine region will experience more novel climate conditions in the future compared to other biogeographical regions. The future projections showed that 17.70% of the PAs in the Alpine region will experience novel climate by 2070. Considerable climate consistency was observed in the PAs in the Continental region compared to the other biogeographical regions. Our results showed that about 176 km 2 of the selected PAs in the Continental region will face new emerging climate, while about 110 km 2 will disappear under RCP 8.5 scenario. The prediction also revealed that in the Mediterranean region 08 PAs will experience novel climate and 786 km 2 areas in these PAs will face disappearing climate by 2070. We found that fewer areas of PAs in the Boreal regions will experience disappearing climate in both the scenarios. Conclusions: The portion of novel climate conditions can be seen as a future opportunity to assign new reserves for the species. Our study highlights the importance of conservation planning to increase the connectivity between PAs, identifying novel conservation zones to maximize representation of habitats during the emerging climatic changes as well as designing strategies, management, and monitoring of the individual PAs.
Article
The decline of farmland and grassland biodiversity is one the major conservation concerns nowadays. The European roller is a secondary cavity nester species typically inhabiting grasslands and farmlands. It has suffered large declines both in size and range of the population since the 1960s, but this negative trend has been reversed in several countries by applying direct conservation actions. As part of this study we aimed to evaluate the current habitat suitability of the historical breeding area of the species within Hungary, to promote the recolonization and the enlargement of the breeding range in the Carpathian Basin, and to evaluate the potential significance of the Natura 2000 network in this process. We applied species distribution modelling (SDM) based on nest-box occupancy data to map potential areas for nest-box supplementation. Grasslands, broad-leaved forests and agricultural sites with significant areas of natural vegetation were found to be the most important predictors. The majority (71%) of the predicted area has no occupied nest-boxes. A significantly larger proportion of grid cells with archive data still preserve suitable land cover composition for rollers, than cells where former breeding wasn’t confirmed, and only a small proportion of former breeding area has become completely unsuitable for the species. Our results indicate large overlaps between the Natura 2000 network and the predicted area, of wich 28.3% overlaps with Special Protection Area (SPA) sites and 23.8% with Special Area of Conservation (SAC/SCI) sites. Our study highlights the importance of promoting the recolonization of the European roller in the Transdanubian region of Hungary and provides a useful tool for direct conservation planning for the species. Our results also suggest that a coordinated network of protected areas such as Natura 2000 can potentially serve as core areas in the recolonization processes.
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Os Sistemas Estaduais de Unidades de Conservação (SEUC) funcionam como mecanismos de proteção da biodiversidade promovendo a harmonização e conectividade entre as diferentes esferas do governo, federal, estadual e municipal. Dessa forma, o presente trabalho teve como objetivo analisar os sistemas estaduais, identificando os estados que o possuem, as categorias de manejo que não constam no Sistema Nacional, e avaliar qualitativa e quantitativamente o status atual das UC estaduais. O levantamento dos dados foi realizado por meio de pesquisas nos sites oficiais de cada estado e envio de correspondências às secretarias estaduais de meio ambiente ou órgãos correlatos. Os resultados mostraram que há ausência do Sistema em alguns estados e àqueles que o possuem apresentam particularidades e novas categorias, diferentes do SNUC. É fundamental manter a sistematização em nível estadual para promover a descentralização, desenvolvimento local e gestão de recursos naturais.
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Green infrastructure is a strategically planned network that broadens traditional biodiversity conservation methods to also encompass the concept of ecosystem services (ES). This study aims to identify the network of green infrastructure in Central Europe. An analysis of ecological connectivity is based on ES supply quantified for CORINE land cover classes. Corridors between core areas, which are represented by Natura 2000 sites, are based on the capacity of ecosystems to supply maintenance and regulating ES. The delineated network of corridors of green infrastructure covers approximately 15% of the landscape of Central Europe that provides high levels of various ES. Ecological corridors create linkages between Natura 2000 sites and support the migration and dispersal of species. Central Europe is an important transitional region where coordinated improvement of ecological connectivity is fundamental. Moreover, promotion of the green infrastructure network and full implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives are targets of two important documents at the European level, the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the EU Strategy on Green Infrastructure.
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Climate change, with its effects, is deeply threatening marine and coastal systems, endangering the correct functioning of their processes and in consequence negatively affecting citizens and communities residing the coastal territories. Their protection can be carried out and consolidated through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), identified since a long time as an efficient instrument, if appropriately managed, to safeguard the health of ecosystems. The correct implementation of protection measures requires dedicated planning and must answer to a plurality of needs, achieve purposes in a short and long time perspective and involve actively the local communities and the stakeholders. This publication aims to identify constraints and strategies for a sound management of MPAs, with particular focus to coastal areas, in order to develop appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures in contrast to climate change effects.
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The paper investigates the relative influence of the EU’s Common agricultural policy interventions, landscape characteristics and production intensity on the diversity of farmland birds. For this purpose, data from the Farmland Bird Monitoring Scheme in Slovenia and national agricultural databases in the period 2008-2017 were analysed. The diversity of birds was highest in open landscapes with high crop diversity and low stocking densities, located in designated areas with natural constraints (LFA) and Natura 2000 sites. Furthermore, farmland bird diversity was negatively associated with direct payments and payments for agri-environmental measures and organic farming, whereas agri-environmental measures supporting extensive grassland management and conservation of landscape characteristics and the “Greening” measures had a low relative influence on bird diversity. The intensification of production, particularly in the beef and dairy sectors, which has been supported by the Common agricultural policy payments, and forest succession in marginal areas, were identified as the potential key drivers of the farmland biodiversity decline in Slovenia. Prispevek analizira relativni vpliv ukrepov Skupne kmetijske politike EU, krajinskih značilnosti in intenzivnosti pridelave na diverziteto ptic kmetijske krajine. V ta namen smo analizirali podatke iz Slovenskega monitoringa ptic kmetijske krajine in nacionalnih kmetijskih podatkovnih baz v obdobju 2008–2017. Diverziteta ptic je bila najvišja v odprtih krajinah z visoko pestrostjo kmetijskih rastlin in nizko obtežbo z živino, ki se nahajajo na območji z omejenimi dejavniki (OMD) in območjih Natura 2000. Diverziteta ptic je bila tudi negativno povezana z višino neposrednih plačil in plačil za kmetijsko-okoljske ukrepe in ekološko kmetovanje, medtem ko so imeli kmetijsko-okoljski ukrepi, namenjeni ohranjanju ekstenzivne rabe travinja in krajinskih značilnosti, in ukrepi »Zelenitve« na diverziteto ptic nizek vpliv. Intenziviranje pridelave in prireje, zlasti v govedoreji, ki je bila spodbujena s plačili Skupne kmetijske politike, in zaraščanje obrobnih območij sta bila opredeljena kot verjetno ključna dejavnika zmanjševanja biotske pestrosti v kmetijskih ekosistemih v Sloveniji.
Thesis
En 1992 en Europe, grâce à la Directive Habitats-Faune-Flore, les habitats naturels sont devenus des objets à conserver au même titre que les espèces, élargissant ainsi le domaine d’actions des politiques publiques à un autre niveau d’organisation de la biodiversité. Mais la reconnaissance tardive de leur valeur de conservation, ainsi que des lacunes dans leurs définitions sont en partie responsables de l’absence de séries temporelles de données sur les habitats à l’échelle nationale. Cela limite notre capacité à surveiller et évaluer leur état de conservation, et à adapter les actions de conservation aux niveaux national et local. Les objectifs de cette thèse sont d’abord d’explorer des approches rapides et formalisées de reconnaissance des habitats forestiers afin de pouvoir ensuite étudier leur dynamique récente au regard de deux grands changements survenus au cours des dernières décennies : le réchauffement climatique et la création du réseau Natura 2000.Nous avons d’abord étudié les incertitudes liées à la reconnaissance des habitats forestiers lors du rattachement d’un relevé floristique à un type d’habitat en comparant cinq experts et trois programmes automatiques de classement. Nous avons mis en évidence la forte variabilité de classement entre experts, et l’efficacité des programmes automatiques qui est comparable à celle des experts. Nous avons également montré que pour la reconnaissance des habitats forestiers, un nombre limité d’espèces est suffisant, et qu’il est possible d’utiliser des relevés réalisés en hiver. Ainsi, nous avons pu créer des séries temporelles de données standardisées sur les habitats forestiers à partir de différentes sources d’inventaires floristiques, rattachés ou non à un type d’habitat.Dans un second temps, la création de 5701 couples de relevés floristiques historiques (avant 1987) et récents (après 1997) a permis de mettre en évidence, en montagne, un changement de 11% des couples vers des habitats forestiers caractéristiques de conditions climatiques plus chaudes. L’augmentation de la dominance de ces habitats nous permet de conclure à une thermophilisation des habitats forestiers en montagne. Cependant, aucun changement significatif n’a été observé en plaine, ce qui conduit à un décalage important entre les exigences thermiques des communautés végétales et les températures actuelles : une dette climatique se développe. Face à des impacts différenciés, nous concluons que les politiques publiques pourraient être mises en place et priorisées de façon différente en montagne et en plaine pour être plus efficaces.Enfin, en étudiant 155 sites Natura 2000 français répartis sur tout le territoire métropolitain tempéré et montagnard, nous avons montré que, depuis la mise en place du réseau, l’augmentation de la quantité des très gros bois sur les zones où ils sont présents est significativement plus forte à l’intérieur du réseau Natura 2000 qu’à l’extérieur. Ainsi, nous avons mis en évidence que les actions de conservation mises en place dans les forêts au sein du réseau Natura 2000, qui sont gérées et exploitées, ont déjà eu des effets positifs sur les très gros bois, considérés comme une caractéristique de vieilles forêts, et utilisés aussi comme indicateur de biodiversité et du bon état de conservation des habitats forestiers.Ce travail de thèse était nécessaire pour compléter les nombreuses études déjà disponibles à l’échelle des espèces et des communautés végétales, car pour être efficace il est indispensable de travailler à la conservation de tous les niveaux d’organisation de la biodiversité simultanément. Connaitre les domaines de validité des moyens de reconnaissance des habitats forestiers, mais aussi comprendre leur dynamique récente et les facteurs qui l’influencent permettent de fournir des éléments pour mettre en place un suivi des habitats forestiers et adapter les politiques publiques et les actions de gestion afin d’en améliorer l’efficacité.
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The book presents current Governance and Management Systems of Protected Areas, assessing their appropriateness to face future challenges, providing reciprocal benefits to local communities and environment. Eight articles reflect the main threats accelerating negative impacts on marine ecosystems such as climate change, invasive alien species, marine litter, tourism. How can marine and terrestrial Protected Areas like Biosphere Reserves, Natural and Cultural World Heritage sites, Natura 2000 areas, National and Regional Parks, and marine observatories increase their response mechanisms? Considerations for new paradigms related to the protection of the marine environment are presented and experts discuss recommendations for the transformation of the Governance and Management Systems.
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Successful conservation needs to be informed by social science because it is closely linked to socio-economic processes and human behaviour. Limited knowledge about ecosystems' interactions with these processes currently undermines conservation efforts. This review provides a comprehensive synthesis of social science concerning the world's largest multinationally-coordinated conservation infrastructure: the European Ecological Network - ‘Natura 2000’. Based on a review of 149 publications, we analyse and discuss the main findings and outline key social-science research gaps with regard to the Natura 2000 network. The review shows that human dimension of the Natura 2000 network is complex and varies among EU Member States. In general, low level and quality of public participation in implementation of the Natura 2000 network and its management, negative public perceptions of the network, lack of flexibility of responsible authorities and insufficient consideration of the local context pose the greatest challenges to the network's functioning. Important but hitherto little studied research topics include: evaluation of participation; effects of education on potential to raise public awareness; effects of potential financing mechanisms for compensating private land-owners; economic studies on cost-effectiveness; and benefits from conservation and ecosystem services. These knowledge gaps will need to be filled for the Natura 2000 network to reach its goals.
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The EU has made significant conservation efforts in the last two decades, guided by the Birds and Habitats Directives, currently under evaluation. Despite these efforts a large proportion of priority species are still in unfavourable condition and continue declining. For this reason, a thoughtful review of the implementation of conservation efforts in Europe is needed to identify potential causes behind this poor effectiveness. We compiled information on the distribution of all conservation funds under the LIFE-Nature, the main financial tool for conservation in Europe. We found that LIFE-Nature has not adequately covered continental conservation needs. The majority of funds have been directed towards non-threatened species or regions of low conservation priority. Given the limited resources available, two key aspects are in urgent need for revision and improvement. Firstly, the distribution of funds should be guided by continental and global conservation needs and planned at the EU scale. Secondly, new mechanisms are required to set conservation priorities in a dynamic fashion, rather than relying on fixed lists (i.e. the Directives’ Annexes) that may rapidly become outdated. These improvements would require new mechanisms to set priorities and redistribution of conservation efforts, supported by adequate policy and a more effective top-down control on investment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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To halt the decline of biodiversity in European farmland, two major tools are available: the Natura 2000 network and agri-environment schemes (AES). We investigated the effect of these two measures on local species richness, single species occurrence and beta diversity of grassland birds in Poland. We counted birds on AES parcels (with less intensive grassland management) and control parcels, both within and outside Special Protection Areas (SPAs, part of Natura 2000), during 2013–2014. Local species richness of AES-target birds was not associated with AES. Similarly, the turnover of AES-target species among sites was comparable at AES and control parcels. Furthermore, no positive interaction between AES and SPAs was observed, indicating a general lack of effect of AES. Local species richness of SPA-target birds was not higher within than outside SPAs, but two SPA-target species were more common and the beta diversity of SPA-target species was higher within than outside SPAs. Thus, our study showed no positive effects of AES on the occurrence of their target species, but confirmed some positive effects of SPAs on their target species. The decision to restrict AES to Special Protection Areas in 2015–2020 has no justification in our analyses. Actually, many AES-target species will be protected within SPAs irrespective of whether the area is an AES or not, but future AES should also include parcels outside SPAs, as many target species occur there. However, to improve the effectiveness of AES management prescriptions should be diversified and customized to meet the largely different habitat preferences of present target species (such as, for instance, the lapwing and corncrake).
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Natura 2000 is a network of nature protection areas established by the European Union under the Habitats Directive (European Union 1992). The aim is to assure long-term survival of the most valuable and endangered species and habitats in Europe. The network comprises special areas of conservation and protection designated by the member states under, respectively, the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. The establishment of the network of protected areas also fulfils a community obligation under the Convention of Biological Diversity of the United Nations.
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Legislation for the preservation of biodiversity has been instrumental to the recovery of multiple species and habitats. The European Habitats Directive 92/92/EEC is one of the strongest legal tools in nature conservation. This Directive seeks to achieve its biodiversity goals by requiring EU Member States to take measures to reach or maintain Favourable Conservation Status (FCS) of natural habitats and species in Europe. FCS is a legal concept, but must be understood and applied by scientists, managers and policy makers, and therefore a proper interpretation of this concept is crucial for biodiversity conservation and wildlife management. However, its definition contains several aspects that can lead to misinterpretation, being the core of controversies in determining whether or not populations have reached FCS. In this review, we provide legal and ecological clarifications of the most contested aspects of FCS that have not yet been conclusively settled by analyzing and weighting a variety of sources.
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The boreal forest, one of the largest biomes on Earth, provides ecosystem services that benefit society at levels ranging from local to global. Currently, about two-thirds of the area covered by this biome is under some form of management, mostly for wood production. Services such as climate regulation are also provided by both the unmanaged and managed boreal forests. Although most of the boreal forests have retained the resilience to cope with current disturbances, projected environmental changes of unprecedented speed and amplitude pose a substantial threat to their health. Management options to reduce these threats are available and could be implemented, but economic incentives and a greater focus on the boreal biome in international fora are needed to support further adaptation and mitigation actions. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Abstract: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/349/6250/819?ijkey=9E/LoNrjj1ASk&keytype=ref&siteid=sci Reprint: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/349/6250/819?ijkey=9E/LoNrjj1ASk&keytype=ref&siteid=sci Full Text: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/349/6250/819?ijkey=9E/LoNrjj1ASk&keytype=ref&siteid=sci
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Protected areas (PAs) are a key strategy for protecting biological resources, but they vary considerably in their effectiveness, and are frequently reported as having negative impacts on local people. This has contributed to a divisive and unresolved debate concerning the compatibility of environmental and socioeconomic development goals. Elucidating the relationship between positive and negative social impacts and conservation outcomes of PAs is key for the development of more effective and socially just conservation. Here, we conduct a global analysis of how PAs affect the wellbeing of local people, the factors associated with these impacts, and crucially the relationship between PAs' conservation and socioeconomic outcomes. Our results show that PAs reporting positive socioeconomic outcomes are more likely to report positive conservation outcomes. We find positive conservation and socioeconomic outcomes are more likely to occur when PAs adopt co-management regimes, empower local people, reduce economic inequalities and maintain cultural and livelihood benefits. While the strictest regimes of PA management attempt to exclude anthropogenic influences to achieve biological conservation objectives, our study provides evidence that PAs that explicitly integrate local people as stakeholders tend to be more effective at achieving joint biological conservation and socioeconomic development outcomes. Strict protection may be needed in some circumstances, yet our results demonstrate that conservation and development objectives can be synergistic and highlight management strategies that increase the probability of achieving win-win scenarios that maximize conservation performance and development outcomes of PAs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The Natura 2000 network is regarded as one of the conservation success stories in the global effort to protect biodiversity. However, significant challenges remain in Natura 2000 implementation, owing to its rapid expansion, and lack of a coherent vision for its future. Scientific research is critical for identifying conservation priorities, setting management goals, and reconciling biodiversity protection and society in the complex political European landscape. Thus, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive evaluation of published Natura 2000 research to highlight prevalent research themes, disciplinary approaches, and spatial entities. We conducted a systematic review of 572 scientific articles and conference proceedings focused on Natura 2000 research, published between 1996 and 2014. We grouped these articles into ‘ecological’ and ‘social and policy’ categories. Using a novel application of network analysis of article keywords, we found that Natura 2000 research forms a cohesive small
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Established under the European Union (EU) Birds and Habitats Directives, Natura 2000 is one of the largest international networks of protected areas. With the spatial designation of sites by the EU member states almost finalized, the biggest challenge still lying ahead is the appropriate management of the sites. To evaluate the cross-scale functioning of Natura 2000 implementation, we analyzed 242 questionnaires completed by conservation scientists involved in the implementation of Natura 2000 in 24 EU member states. Respondents identified 7 key drivers of the quality of Natura 2000 implementation. Ordered in decreasing evaluation score, these drivers included: network design, use of external resources, legal frame, scientific input, procedural frame, social input, and national or local policy. Overall, conservation scientists were moderately satisfied with the implementation of Natura 2000. Tree modeling revealed that poor application of results of environmental impact assessments (EIA) was considered a major constraint. The main strengths of the network included the substantial increase of scientific knowledge of the sites, the contribution of nongovernmental organizations, the adequate network design in terms of area and representativeness, and the adequacy of the EU legal frame. The main weaknesses of Natura 2000 were the lack of political will from local and national governments toward effective implementation; the negative attitude of local stakeholders; the lack of background knowledge of local stakeholders, which prevented well-informed policy decisions; and the understaffing of Natura 2000 management authorities. Top suggestions to improve Natura 2000 implementation were increase public awareness, provide environmental education to local communities, involve high-quality conservation experts, strengthen quality control of EIA studies, and establish a specific Natura 2000 fund.
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Background/Purpose: In the context of the European Biodiversity policy, the Green Infrastructure Strategy is one supporting tool to mitigate fragmentation, inter-alia to increase the spatial and functional connectivity between protected and unprotected areas. The Joint Research Centre has developed an integrated model to provide a macro-scale set of indices to evaluate the connectivity of the Natura 2000 network, which forms the backbone of a Green Infrastructure for Europe. The model allows a wide assessment and comparison to be performed across countries in terms of structural (spatially connected or isolated sites) and functional connectivity (least-cost distances between sites influenced by distribution, distance and land cover). Main conclusion: the Natura 2000 network in Europe shows differences among countries in terms of the sizes and numbers of sites, their distribution as well as distances between sites. Connectivity has been assessed on the basis of a 500 m average inter-site distance, roads and intensive land use as barrier effect as well as the presence of "green" corridors. In all countries the Natura 2000 network is mostly made of sites which are not physically connected. Highest functional connectivity values are found for Spain, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. The more natural landscape in Sweden and Finland does not result in high inter-site network connectivity due to large inter-site distances. The distribution of subnets with respect to roads explains the higher share of isolated subnets in Portugal than in Belgium.
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Large-scale conservation requires the involvement of numerous stakeholders to plan for and implement a range of activities across multiple scales. Establishing and sustaining the effective collaborations necessary to achieve this is a key challenge. Utilising data from a large-scale conservation initiative in the south west of Australia we characterise the interactions between stakeholders as a social network. We employ a novel network theoretical approach to assess the different forms of collaboration, including cross-scale collaboration. We find that the social network predisposes cross-scale collaboration for invasive animal control, an action where coordination of activities is necessary. We find that for revegetation activities there is little evidence of collaboration across scales, but this could be fostered by a subset of stakeholders acting in a “scale-bridging” role. Addressing this will likely improve the effectiveness of revegetation efforts and the outcomes of the broader conservation initiative.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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A precise knowledge of the spatial distribution of taxa is essential for decision-making processes in land management and biodiversity conservation, both for present and under future global change scenarios. This is a key base for several scientific disciplines (e.g. macro-ecology, biogeography, evolutionary biology, spatial planning, or environmental impact assessment) that rely on species distribution maps. An atlas summarizing the distribution of European amphibians and reptiles with 50 × 50 km resolution maps based on ca. 85 000 grid records was published by the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH) in 1997. Since then, more detailed species distribution maps covering large parts of Europe became available, while taxonomic progress has led to a plethora of taxonomic changes including new species descriptions. To account for these progresses, we compiled information from different data sources: published in books and websites, ongoing national atlases, personal data kindly provided to the SEH, the 1997 European Atlas, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Databases were homogenised, deleting all information except species names and coordinates, projected to the same coordinate system (WGS84) and transformed into a 50 × 50 km grid. The newly compiled database comprises more than 384 000 grid and locality records distributed across 40 countries. We calculated species richness maps as well as maps of Corrected Weighted Endemism and defined species distribution types (i.e. groups of species with similar distribution patterns) by hierarchical cluster analysis using Jaccard’s index as association measure. Our analysis serves as a preliminary step towards an interactive, dynamic and online distributed database system (NA2RE system) of the current spatial distribution of European amphibians and reptiles. The NA2RE system will serve as well to monitor potential temporal changes in their distributions. Grid maps of all species are made available along with this paper as a tool for decision-making and conservation-related studies and actions. We also identify taxonomic and geographic gaps of knowledge that need to be filled, and we highlight the need to add temporal and altitudinal data for all records, to allow tracking potential species distribution changes as well as detailed modelling of the impacts of land use and climate change on European amphibians and reptiles.
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Clozapine is underutilized in the management of treatment-resistant schizophrenia. To understand contributing factors, we analyzed the frequency and causes of clozapine discontinuations that occurred over a 15-year period in a clinical setting. Data were extracted from computerized records and from mandatory termination reports for discontinuation events 1993-2007. The reasons for termination were analyzed. Over half of the patients (n = 183/320; 57%) had at least one discontinuation (median time 609 days). The two most common causes for discontinuation were non-adherence (35%) and side-effects (28%). Hematological side-effects accounted for 45% of all side-effect associated discontinuations; most such patients remained eligible for clozapine treatment, and a significant fraction remained on clozapine after rechallenge. Central nervous system side-effects accounted for 35% of side-effect induced discontinuations. General factors significantly associated with discontinuation were African American race, older age at initiation of clozapine and less improvement in psychiatric symptoms. In addition to anticipating and addressing causes of non-adherence, psychiatrists should consider clozapine rechallenge in eligible patients and implement measures to mitigate clozapine-associated sedation, seizures, and other side-effects. Future studies should particularly address why African American and older patients may be more likely to discontinue clozapine.
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The discovery of a shell of the Chinese pond mussel in 1998 and further confirmation of this species indicate that a reservoir with natural thermal conditions is the oldest species location in Poland. Growth increments of an archival shell do not fall within the ranges obtained by this species in Konin lakes. They are, however, close to population ranges from Hungary. In contrast to other specimens found, the analyzed shell has a very high H/L ratio and is thicker. The observed features might result from the founder effect or they might point to a considerable plasticity of the species.
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The world's biodiversity is currently in rapid decline -Europe being no exception -with as principal cause a human-mediated global change. The Natura 2000 network is an important conservation tool for Euro-pean biodiversity; it is a network of natural and semi-natural sites within Europe with high heritage values due to the exceptional flora and fauna they contain. Here, we evaluated the coverage of 300 threatened species by the Natura 2000 network, and determined potential factors influencing the designation of sites and the structure of the network within a country (social, ecological and demographic national fac-tors). Our analysis was based on a coverage ratio between the Natura 2000 sites and distribution maps of threatened European species. We showed that the distributions of a large proportion of threatened species of mammals, birds and reptiles considered in our study were highly covered (above 90%) by the current Natura 2000 network, demonstrating that the Natura 2000 network also covers species not listed in the annexes of the Nature Directives. However, our results confirm that a large proportion of threatened spe-cies (some of them listed on the European annexes), especially fishes, are currently poorly covered by the Natura 2000 network. The coverage of species likely seemed to be highly related to national demographic factors, i.e. the proportion of the national urban population. Our analysis also suggested that the designa-tion of sites depends too strongly on governmental politics, economic and cultural criteria, and interac-tions between society and the environment. A more effective process might be necessary to ensure the Natura 2000 network reaches its potential as the most important and comprehensive network of protected areas intended to halt the loss of biodiversity in Europe in the near future. A peer-reviewed open-access journal