5 years ago

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps


Kun Zhang REVIEW AND GAPS: EUROPEAN ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS IN THE PAST 40 YEARS academic institutions, including concepts of ‘target species’, ‘indicator species’ [13], ‘interesting species’ and ‘focal species’. At the same time, limited information exist, regarding, the classification and the optimal distribution of habitat, and connectivity planning and implementation of such plans are always confronted with a considerable shortage of knowledge. Although the EUNIS habitat classification and the Annex I of the Habitats Directive [14] have been published these provide only limited guidance for habitat selection. Corridor: Model and Index of the connectivity Corridor construction is the backbone of any attempt to develop a green corridor, a green belt and ecological networks [5]. Making linkages and providing for connectivity within the larger network structure [15] is of great importance for the functioning of the system. Hence, corridor planning has become the determining factor of any reasonable network scheme. A variety models have been proposed in theoretical studies, including dispersal models [15], least-cost modelling [16], cost-distance models, sources-sink models, geographic surface models, movement models of individuals [17], etc. All of these models primarily apply to specific landscape scales. Recently, the topological analysis based on graph theoretical methods [18-19] and artificial neural networks (ANNs) have been discussed. However, there still is no satisfactory and comprehensive theoretical framework to support the concept of landscape connectivity [20] in developing multi-scale ecological networks. Geospatial Technology and Tools The validation of large-scale modelling approaches relies on sufficient data and the application of effective analysis tools. GIS-based approaches have always been applied for incorporating connectivity data for ecological network planning [21]. Additionally, visual interpretation of air or satellite imagery, using remote sensing, has also been applied for data extraction and analysis. More specifically 3D technologies have been explored within geospatial tools. For example, the German institutes of DFR-DFD have applied LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) that is based on a Definiens platform as a rapid tool to predict forest habitat types within Natura 2000 networks [22]. Even though such advanced geospatial technologies have been applied in some counties, the degrees and qualities of their application in each country is not harmonized with others. These techniques might, in the future, have the potential to be effectively applied in monitoring ecological networks within Natura 2000 [23]. 5 IMPLEMETATION GAPS 5.1 Connecting national and local network initiatives Natura 2000 is the conceptual framework for the implementation of the ecological network within Europe. More than 150 different ‘ecological plans’ are currently beeing conducted at a variety of different scales. Connecting national, regional and local scales is important. Three problems have been encountered and lead to these questions: 110

Kun Zhang REVIEW AND GAPS: EUROPEAN ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS IN THE PAST 40 YEARS (1) How to achieve reasonable transitions from a national protection strategy to concrete local projects; what are the main principles and what is the theoretical model? (2) How to achieve negotiations and mediations when dealing with local stake holders, especially when aiming at financial compensations for individual land owners [24]? (3) How to optimally explore community contributions, particularly through involvment social learning and other processes by which the maximum protective effects might be achieved [25]? 5.2 Implementation Assessment Almost all who are actively involved advocate that tremendous positive effects are achieved by establishing ecological networks. These advocates are active in the fields of nature conservation and ecological and sustainable development. Much money has been invested into network construction. On the other hand, there is a considerable shortcoming of confirmation, through quantitative assessment, on the degree that ecological networks really work. There is a great need to answer the question: to what degree has any ecological network achieved its objective? It takes some time for the coming out of the ecological network’s effects. This might be one of the reasons for the lack of project evaluations. Being a pioneer in the construction of ecological networks, The Netherlands have performed quantitative assessments of the ecological network efficiency. In these evaluations, detailed quantitative assessments are based upon 564 species and 131 different ecosystems. The result of the evaluation indicates that a trade-off must be accepted, at the national level, between ecological improvements and social costs [26]. In the next few decades, with more projects being implemented, it should be a requirement to perform more eco-efficiency assessments, and to use guidelines for this purpose. 5.3 Organisational obligations Discrepancies exist, in theoretical research and in application, within different countries. To harmonise their efforts is challenge particularly in Europe. The main objective might be to organise the establishing of a unified database, promoting efficient geospatial technologies, and to refer to one common approach [3] [27]. Working among over 100 European-wide agencies still leaves uncounted numbers of gaps to be filled, not only in information systems, but also in the European ecological network itself. 6 CONCLUSION In the process of 40 years, the development of ecological networks as a single target conservation strategy evolved into a multi-objective comprehensive strategy that now includes social, cultural and other aims. It has a significant advantage over other strategies as it may change the shape and location of land uses without losing their conservation potential. On the other hand, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in theory and in practice. How to achieve effective approaches and to fill the gap in implementations are some of the 111

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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps
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