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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 The focus of the Styrian Nature Conservation Act lies on the protection of areas and species, but lack the consideration of living space corridors. Further, planning regulations for the entire federal state, respectively for areas between protected zones, are hardly to define. One basic principle of spatial planning in Styria is to establish a balance between interests of settlement development and the utilization of open space. Spatial planning, as an interdisciplinary matter, supports nature conservation by securing ecologically important structures between protected areas (cross-linking requirements) and by implementing area management. Within the scope of the Regional Development Programs (REPRO- “Regionales Entwicklungsprogramm”), priority zones for different utilization (e.g. green zones) are to be defined. The subsequently drafted method requires a strong co-operation between experts in spatial planning and ecology. 4 GENERAL AIMS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE “GREEN NETWORK” Despite the efforts of establishing protected areas, biodiversity is continuously declining in the European countries. The main reasons are the destruction of natural habitats and the deterioration of cultural landscapes combined with the fragmentation of vital areas for fauna and flora. These phenomena become obvious mainly outside of protected areas. Areas without a special protection status which are farmed, used or urbanized, are of major importance and have to be connected (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, 2010). The connection between high-valued physical regions needs to be secured. This challenge needs a common vision and can only be implemented successfully when different actors/stakeholders and disciplines pursue a common European-wide aim together, using coherent strategy. The main aims of the “Green Network” are � Protect habitats and biocoenosis (ecosystems) � Safeguard native fauna and flora (e.g. protection of a reproductive population) � Safeguard, restore and develop the ecological functions in and between protected areas, as well as between protected and other areas of outstanding natural beauty. TheGreen Network” consists of core areas, corridors and connecting elements (stepping-stone biotopes).The defined aim of the Styrian approach fits in the interdisciplinary methodological approach. It is obvious that green zones and living space corridors, that have to be secured, fulfill multiple functions. Thus the overall focus is set on following main functions: � Ecological function (protection of natural and cultural landscapes) � Connecting function of corridors � Recreational function (local recreation close to urban settlement areas) � Common benefit (social welfare- and protective function, such as climate effective areas, retention areas to protect settlements e.g.). According to the multifunctional approach of the presented “Styrian approach”, the following aims have been defined: 62

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 � Maintenance and safeguard of ecosystem functions for protected areas, ecological core areas, corridors and stepping-stone biotopes: a. in terms of exchange between population to avoid inbreeding b. in terms of genetic exchange and c. as additional retreat area � Definition of zones with recreational function and the connection between them (main focus on the central region and urban areas): d. Safeguard landscapes with high recreational value e. Establish and ensure „recreational qualities“ and thereby maintain the area´s character f. Establish and ensure connections between landscapes with high recreational value and settlement areas � Definition and protection of areas with protective and common benefit function g. Protection of settlements against natural hazards h. Assurance of climatological compensation-areas and enhancement of environmental quality (particularly in rehabilitation zones according to the Immission Control Act). WORKFLOW OF THE STYRIAN APPROACH Fig.: Workflow of the Styrian approach The proposal of the expert for the demarcation of green zones and living corridors is based on the following four working steps: 63

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