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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

Olaf

Olaf Bastian, Christina Wachler, Markus Leibenath, Martin Neruda THE EUROPEAN NATURA 2000 NETWORK AS A FACTOR FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE ORE MOUNTAINS (GERMANY / CZECH REPUBLIC) Habitats Directive and Special Protection Areas under the EU Birds Directive, some of them in extensive complexes, which in some cases straddle the border and form transnational “green networks”. There are numerous characteristic habitat types, such as raised bogs and bog forests that give the impression of pristine nature; however, such “human-made” features as mountain meadows with blooming and fragrant herbs, matgrass meadows, tall subalpine herbaceous vegetation, stone walls, mixed mountain forests and near-natural flowing waters are also valuable and worthy of protection. Several rare and threatened species are among the remarkable flora, such as arnica (Arnica montana), ragged pink (Dianthus seguieri) and several orchid species, and fauna, including the black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and the corncrake (Crex crex). The black grouse, which is threatened with regional extinction, is a species being targeted for nature conservation on the European level. The biggest Central European black grouse population outside the Alps has its habitat in the Ore Mountains on both sides of the German-Czech border. The cross-border German-Czech project “Green Network Ore Mountains” (time period 2009-2012; http://www.natura-2000-synergies.net; project partners: Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER), Dresden, Germany, Faculty for Environment of the J. E. Purkyně University, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, the Western Ore Mountains and Central Ore Mountains Associations for Land Care, Germany) funded by the European Union (EFRE Objective 3 / INTERREG IV A), was launched to identify and develop synergies between nature conservation and rural development, especially in the spheres of conservation-friendly agriculture and forestry, rural tourism and environmental education. The project had a special focus on the many NATURA 2000 sites in the Ore Mountains. The core objectives were to reveal the various services and benefits that NATURA 2000 sites along the Ore Mountains ridge zone provide, as well as to elaborate a draft strategy including measures to support rural development at the interface of nature conservation and landscape management. This paper presents the project design (Fig. 1), the methodological approach and the main results and experiences. 2 METHOD We started with a SWOT analysis, which shows the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the region. Thus, we identified relevant stakeholders (mainly from public authorities and non-governmental organizations) that were actively involved in nature conservation, tourism and environmental education. In particular, we analyzed the main economic, ecological and socio-cultural potentials and services of the NATURA 2000 sites in the ridge zones of the Ore Mountains using a mere descriptive or semi-quantitative approach (expert judgement). We distinguished between the potential or capacity to provide services on the one hand, and the actual use of these services on the other. We also identified the opportunities and risks of utilizing these services in the framework of sustainable rural development [5]. The information used stems from the management plans for the NATURA 2000 sites (SAC) and nature reserves, from government agencies, and from project partners’ personal knowledge. The selected NATURA 2000 sites (24 on the Saxon side and 19 on the Czech side of the Ore Mountains) included in the analyses are representing the typical spectrum of habitat types of the upper Ore Mountains: forests, raised bogs, mountain meadows and small creeks. 52

Olaf Bastian, Christina Wachler, Markus Leibenath, Martin Neruda THE EUROPEAN NATURA 2000 NETWORK AS A FACTOR FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE ORE MOUNTAINS (GERMANY / CZECH REPUBLIC) In close connection with the identification of potentials and services of NATURA 2000 sites, in-depth investigation into agriculture, rural tourism and environmental education, covering the present situation, stakeholders, and differences between the two countries, were made to enrich the information base. This was a precondition for the next step: In close cooperation with local and regional stakeholders, e.g. landscape managers, touristic associations, authorities, even mayors, and NGOs, strategies and measures were worked out to enhance the status and the acceptance of nature conservation, especially NATURA 2000, and to show how such areas can be maintained in a favourable state by permanently integrating such economic aspects as product marketing and rural tourism, and through environmental education. Figure 1: Design of the EU project “Green Network Ore Mountains” 53

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