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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

Hans-Jörg Raderbauer,

Hans-Jörg Raderbauer, Judith Drapela-Dhiflaoui, Brigitte Grießer, Martin Wieser, Horst Leitner, Johannes Leitner STUDY ON HABITAT NETWORKING IN STYRIA (AUSTRIA) / DEVELOPED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF NATREG STUDY ON HABITAT NETWORKING IN STYRIA (Austria) / Developed within the framework of NATREG BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR THE DEMARCATION OF GREEN ZONES AND ECOLOGICAL CORRIDORS WITHIN THE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMM OF THE STYRIAN STATE GOVERNMENT 1 INTRODUCTION DI Hans-Jörg Raderbauer, Dr. Mag. Judith Drapela-Dhiflaoui, DI Brigitte Grießer freiland Environmental Consulting Civil Engineers ltd. Muenzgrabenstraße 4, A-8010 Graz, Austria office.graz@freiland.at DI Martin Wieser Office of the State Government of Styria, Department 16 – State Planning and Regional Development Stempfergasse 7, A-8010 Graz, Austria Martin.wieser@stmk.gv.at DI Horst Leitner Anton-Gassner-Weg 3, A-9020 Klagenfurt, Austria Horst.leitner@wildoekologie.at Mag. Johannes Leitner regionalentwicklung.at Gartengasse 29, A-8010 Graz, Austria leitner@regionalentwicklung.at Why is the preservation of “Green Networks” so important? Open spaces, which are of high importance for humans, animals and plants, are endangered because of the continuous growth according to economy, housing, infrastructure and many other sectors. The present project tries to channel the competing claims of utilization of open spaces or to sustain the diverse functions of these areas respectively. Especially the protection of extensive local recreation areas as well as the protection of coherent open spaces in the present and future settlement areas of Styria is vital to facilitate the unobstructed dispersal of fauna and flora. The project fulfills a further cross-linking function. Through the close collaboration between spatial planning and ecology (nature conservation) an added value for all departments can be generated, which could not be achieved by one discipline on its own. The present approach of connecting open spaces corresponds to the strategies of the EC which have been published in summer 2010 and propagate the consideration of various relevant disciplines when connecting open spaces. Therefore the innovative approach of the Styrian “Green Network” makes a significant contribution to the European-wide discussion about connecting open spaces. The present study is part of the European Community co-financed project NATREG (Managing Natural Assets and Protected Areas as Sustainable Regional Development Opportunities – EC cofinancing within the program South East Europe). The Spatial Planning Department of Styria takes part in the EU-project and retained an interdisciplinary team of experts. The Styrian result is an expert proposal concerning the demarcation of green zones and living space corridors. In a separate process a 60

Hans-Jörg Raderbauer, Judith Drapela-Dhiflaoui, Brigitte Grießer, Martin Wieser, Horst Leitner, Johannes Leitner STUDY ON HABITAT NETWORKING IN STYRIA (AUSTRIA) / DEVELOPED WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF NATREG conflict free demarcation and regulation of green zones and ecological corridors is carried out. The statutory basis underlies the directives of the Regional Development Program of the Styrian Government. 2 PROJECT OBJECTIVES The main objective is the development and implementation of an innovative method to demarcate green zones and habitat corridors. Further, the protection of these areas by means of spatial planning instruments and strong accompanying public relations are core working areas within the present study. By considering the multifunctionality of open spaces, following aims are of high importance: � safeguard habitats and sanctuaries � safeguard connection axes and keep them clear in order to facilitate genetic exchange and to provide additional withdrawal areas � safeguard landscapes with high (local) recreation value and their connections � keep areas clear where high risk of exposure to the forces of nature is given � safeguard climatic compensation areas in order to improve the quality of the environment 3 WHY A MULTIFUNCTIONAL APPROACH? According to the Birds and Habitats Directive, numerous protected zones have been established in the European Union within the past years. For most of the animal and plant species the currently existing conservation areas are getting too small, because of specific species requirements, as reproduction, migration etc. Only to secure isolated sanctuaries is not sufficient enough, it is also necessary to ensure the preservation of biological biodiversity. Thus, a further important step is to establish a continuity of PA´s (Protected Areas) in an integrated transnational “Green Network”. Within the scope of a professional cooperation between spatial planning and (wildlife) ecology in the pilot region Styria, the approach of developing and securing green zones and habitat corridors is put into practice. A professional, faultless demarcation of green zones and living space corridors is essential for a funded argumentation within the scope of defining areas in spatial planning. The basis is the multifunctionality of open spaces. Apart from ecological corridor and habitat functions, open space also fulfils numerous positive functions for humans regarding social welfare and recreation. Between these functions, numerous synergies exist and the additional value of these areas should be highlighted in the results of this project. Besides the already mentioned functions of open spaces, the productive function (e.g. agricultural or forest areas) is of high importance. In Styria these areas are already under protection by means of the so called “agricultural priority zones” of the spatial planning instruments. The approach of protected agricultural areas against urban sprawl forms the basis for a countrywide protection of landscape-ecologically valuable areas. If operating as important wildlife corridor, intensively used agricultural land is included into the results. A separate process is used to declare certain areas as “ecological corridors” or “agriculturally used zones” in spatial planning. Therefore, intensive production areas are not considered in the subsequently presented method. 61

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