Natura 2000 networks: Improving current methods in biodiversity conservation

Apr 18, 2013
This image shows the Nature 2000 site No. FR7300836: "Chars de moulis et de LIque, grotte d'Aubert, soulane de balaguères et de Sainte Catherine, granges des vallées de Sour et d'Astien" Credit: Credit: Jerôme Pereira

The world's biodiversity is currently in rapid decline, with human-mediated global change being a principal cause. Europe is no exception, and the Natura 2000 network provides an important conservation tool for biodiversity on a European level. It forms a network of natural and semi-natural sites within the region with high heritage values due to the exceptional flora and fauna they contain. The goal of the Natura 2000 network is to maintain the biological diversity of environments, while taking into account economic, social, cultural and regional logic of sustainable development. A new study published in the open access journal Nature Conservation provides an evaluation of the effectiveness of Natura 2000 and sets objectives and recommendations for the future.

This is a map of the Natura 2000 sites at the European scale. Credit: Credit: Audrey Trochet

The analysis in the paper is based on a coverage ratio between the Natura 2000 sites and distribution maps of 300 threatened IUCN red listed European . The study shows that the distributions of a large proportion of threatened species of mammals, birds and reptiles are highly covered (above 90%), demonstrating the effectiveness of the Natura 2000 network. However, results also confirm that a large proportion of threatened species, especially fishes, are currently still poorly covered. Of the 124 considered, 22 species had a range coverage of less than 10 %. The coverage of species also seems to be highly related to national , as the proportion of the national urban population. Further analysis suggests that the designation of sites depends too strongly on governmental politics, economic and cultural criteria, and interactions between society and the environment.

In order to improve the management of sites, a common and standardized management of the Natura 2000 sites with a uniform framework among member states needs to be established. The study suggests that sites should be under continuous observation and evaluation, to determine their importance for the conservation of biodiversity in a biogeographical region. Such an approach would improve efficiency and determine high priority Natura 2000 sites, as well as provide a basis on which to determine appropriate resource allocation. These approaches will help with the selection process, and may decrease the impact of the political agenda, as current observed.

This image shows the coverage of the Natura 2000 network on the distribution maps of European threatened species by member state. This result highlighted that countries showing the best coverage were Spain (ES), Bulgaria (BU) and Ireland (IE). Credit: Audrey Trochet

"Our results recommend increasing the number of Natura 2000 sites, in order to overlay a large proportion of the distribution map of considered species. We further recommend developing public awareness and participation to increase the ecological conscience. The involvement of local people in conservation strategies has been shown to be highly efficient.", comment the authors of the study Dr Trochet, Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS а Moulis and Dr Schmeller, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. "Our recommendations should increase the efficiency of Natura 2000 network by avoiding the establishment of ineffective sites (with a low number of protected species), as observed in several member states with a high Natura 2000 surface coverage but with a low number of protected species."

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths (Update)

More information: Trochet A, Schmeller DS (2013) Effectiveness of the Natura 2000 network to cover threatened species. Nature Conservation 4: 35. doi: 10.3897/natureconservation.4.3626

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Europe's natural habitats under threat

Mar 06, 2013

Climate change, intensive farming and urban sprawl - are putting Europe's parkland and biological diversity under increasing pressure. The natural environment can only take so much pressure, before it becomes ...

Steps in the right direction for conservation

Oct 17, 2012

As the climate changes, conservationists are divided over the most effective way to preserve animal and plant diversity because they cannot simply preserve the status quo. Ensuring species can shift to track the climate to ...

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

Dec 19, 2014

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

clarinetman
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2013
Sustainability = Agenda 21
Carbon Tax = Agenda 21
Social Responsibility = Agenda 21

Google it and educate yourself. Agenda 21 is a seemingly-benign and beneficial government plan to "conserve the ecosystem". It is absolutely none of these things. Agenda 21 is an insidious global elitist-devised agenda to create a one-world power structure disguised as an eco friendly plan for increased diversity (effective worldwide thanks to the UN). Once in full effect, it gives US citizen's land rights away, as well as control over their food and water consumption to the government.

Only you can stop it. It will only be to your impending peril if you disregard this message. You will be the one who allows the enslavement of the lower and working classes by a corporate police state. Choose well.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.