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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

Rob H.G. Jongman

Rob H.G. Jongman ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS: A SOCIETY APPROACH FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION Figure 3 Design of a road crossing and landscape structure for a badger (Meles meles) [28] Figure.4 Badger tunnel realised in a road project (Photo Rob Jongman) 5 ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS ACROSS BORDERS Important processes in European landscapes are homogenisation and fragmentation of traditional landscapes [29]. The European landscape is fragmenting and many species in the small-scale cultural landscapes of Europe are especially sensitive to land use change and changes in landscape structure. The recognition of the existence of fluxes of matter and minerals, population dynamics and genetic exchange on the one hand and compensation of land use that is not compatible with it on the other are the main considerations as arguments for development of ecological networks. Especially administrative borders (national, regional) can be a cause for fragmentation, because plans and priorities are set within administrative borders and mostly not across. Ecological networks require landscape planning across borders. The responsibility for landscape and spatial planning is organised rather differently over Europe and therefore the development of ecological networks is different. In many cases functions and tasks are divided over several ministries and many other agencies depending on the state organisation. Different views are being developed depending on institutionalisation, scientific tradition and history. In Germany and Austria landscape planning plays a decisive role as a tool for structuring and maintaining the diversity of the rural areas: its multifunctionality. In other countries nature conservation and landscape planning are strongly integrated (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic) because of the recognition of the relation between them in their cultural landscapes. In countries in southern Europe the need for planning was felt less strongly or at least the execution of planning ideas was less strict. Partly this is due to a lack of vertical co-ordination between municipalities, provinces, regions and the national level. In all Europe habitats were becoming increasingly fragmented due to economic development. The concept of ecological networks is the translation of landscape ecological knowledge on fragmentation processes and its consequences for populations of natural species. It tries to mitigate the decline of natural species in fragmented landscapes and to overcome the fact that for many natural species the existing nature reserves and National Parks are too small. The concept has become implicit in a variety of international conventions (Ramsar convention, Bern Convention), European directives (Habitats and Birds Directives) and related EU policy implementation (Natura 2000). It has become operational in national and European strategies of developing national and regional ecological networks, and in the Pan European Ecological Network – PEEN, that is the core of the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy – (PEBLDS) [30]. 8

Rob H.G. Jongman ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS: A SOCIETY APPROACH FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION 6 ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS AND ITS STAKEHOLDERS Plans for the further development of ecological networks are ambitious. The 5 th Ministerial Conference “Environment of Europe” concluded that “by 2008, all core areas of the Pan-European Ecological Network will be adequately conserved and the Pan European Ecological Network will give guidance to all major national, regional and international land use and planning policies as well as to the operations of relevant economic and financial sectors”. It is obvious that these targets have not been met and that they will not be met without the active cooperation of relevant land use sectors such as agriculture and forestry, and local and regional planning authorities. These targets can only be realised in partnerships between the conservation sector (government and NGO) and the various stakeholders involved. In 2007 at least the vision and the collective ideas have been realised and implementation is an on-going process [31]. The implementation of ecological networks can only be carried out if the cooperation between neighbouring countries and between sectors is realized. This is the biggest challenge, because it required engagement of the whole society and especially politicians. That's not easy, because it asks for long-term commitment. It is possible, as experience shows in the last ten years in the Netherlands, but also vulnerable, as the political changes haven’t demonstrated in the Netherlands in the last two years. 7 CONCLUSION Two important principles have to be united. The approach, and the resulting ecological network, must allow integration of environmental issues with socio-economic functions of the landscape and the acceptance of the landowners and consumers of the landscape. The approach taken must also provide an identifiable product on which the varied skills, knowledge and attitudes of stakeholders can focus. This means that not only the top down planning approach is important, but that realisation and implementation depend on the bottom up approach of involving stakeholders, both from the field of biodiversity conservation and other sectors of society. We need visionary people, who are able to use of the opportunities at the right moment, push the development and are able to work on the relationship between the European and the national ecological network systems. This is necessary if in the future nature has to cope with climate change and fits into an economically evolving Europe. REFERENCES [1] Buchwald, K., Engelhardt, W., 1980. Handbuch für Planung, Gestaltung und Schutz der Umwelt. BLV Verlagsgesellschaft, Munich. [2] Jongman R, Bouwma I, Griffioen A, Jones-Walters L, Van Doorn A (2011) The Pan European Ecological Network: PEEN. Landscape Ecology 26(3):311-326 [3] Jongman, R.H.G., Külvik, M and Kristiansen. I. (2004) European ecological networks and greenways. Landscape and Urban Planning, 68:305-319 [4] Stenseth, N.C. and Lidicker, W. 1992. Animal Dispersal, small mammals as a model. Chapman and Hall, London pp 365 9

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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps
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