AboutZoos, Since 2008


Natura 2000 net­works: Improv­ing cur­rent meth­ods in bio­di­ver­sity conservation

pub­lished 18 April 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014

Natura2000 mapThe world’s bio­di­ver­sity is cur­rently in rapid decline, with human-​mediated global change being a prin­ci­pal cause. Europe is no excep­tion, and the Natura 2000 net­work pro­vides an impor­tant con­ser­va­tion tool for bio­di­ver­sity on a Euro­pean level. It forms a net­work of nat­ural and semi-​natural sites within the region with high her­itage val­ues due to the excep­tional flora and fauna they con­tain. The goal of the Natura 2000 net­work is to main­tain the bio­log­i­cal diver­sity of envi­ron­ments, while tak­ing into account eco­nomic, social, cul­tural and regional logic of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. A new study pub­lished on 18 April in the open access jour­nal Nature Con­ser­va­tion pro­vides an eval­u­a­tion of the effec­tive­ness of Natura 2000 and sets objec­tives and rec­om­men­da­tions for the future.

The analy­sis in the paper is based on a cov­er­age ratio between the Natura 2000 sites and dis­tri­b­u­tion maps of 300 threat­ened IUCN red listed Euro­pean species. The study shows that the dis­tri­b­u­tions of a large pro­por­tion of threat­ened species of mam­mals, birds and rep­tiles are highly cov­ered (above 90%), demon­strat­ing the effec­tive­ness of the Natura 2000 net­work. How­ever, results also con­firm that a large pro­por­tion of threat­ened species, espe­cially fishes, are cur­rently still poorly cov­ered. Of the 124 fish species con­sid­ered, 22 species had a range cov­er­age of less than 10 %. The cov­er­age of species also seems to be highly related to national demo­graphic fac­tors, as the pro­por­tion of the national urban pop­u­la­tion. Fur­ther analy­sis sug­gests that the des­ig­na­tion of sites depends too strongly on gov­ern­men­tal pol­i­tics, eco­nomic and cul­tural cri­te­ria, and inter­ac­tions between soci­ety and the envi­ron­ment.

In order to improve the man­age­ment of sites, a com­mon and stan­dard­ised man­age­ment of the Natura 2000 sites with a uni­form frame­work among mem­ber states needs to be estab­lished. The study sug­gests that sites should be under con­tin­u­ous obser­va­tion and eval­u­a­tion, to deter­mine their impor­tance for the con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity in a bio­geo­graph­i­cal region. Such an approach would improve effi­ciency and deter­mine high pri­or­ity Natura 2000 sites, as well as pro­vide a basis on which to deter­mine appro­pri­ate resource allo­ca­tion. These approaches will help with the selec­tion process, and may decrease the impact of the polit­i­cal agenda, as cur­rent observed.

Our results rec­om­mend increas­ing the num­ber of Natura 2000 sites, in order to over­lay a large pro­por­tion of the dis­tri­b­u­tion map of con­sid­ered species. We fur­ther rec­om­mend devel­op­ing pub­lic aware­ness and par­tic­i­pa­tion to increase the eco­log­i­cal con­science. The involve­ment of local peo­ple in con­ser­va­tion strate­gies has been shown to be highly efficient.
(Authors of the study Dr Tro­chet, Sta­tion d’Ecologie Expéri­men­tale du CNRS а Moulis and Dr Schmeller, UFZ — Helmholtz Cen­tre for Envi­ron­men­tal Research)

“Our rec­om­men­da­tions should increase the effi­ciency of Natura 2000 net­work by avoid­ing the estab­lish­ment of inef­fec­tive sites (with a low num­ber of pro­tected species), as observed in sev­eral mem­ber states with a high Natura 2000 sur­face cov­er­age but with a low num­ber of pro­tected species.”

(Source: Pen­soft Pub­lish­ers press release via EurekAlert!, 18.04.2013)

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