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Landscape fragmentation of the Natura 2000 network and its surrounding areas

Title data

Lawrence, Alexandra ; Friedrich, Fabian ; Beierkuhnlein, Carl:
Landscape fragmentation of the Natura 2000 network and its surrounding areas.
In: PLoS One. Vol. 16 (2021) Issue 10 . - No. e0258615.
ISSN 1932-6203
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0258615

Abstract in another language

Habitat loss from anthropogenic development has led to an unprecedented decline in global biodiversity. Protected areas (PAs) exist to counteract this degradation of ecosystems. In the European Union, the Natura 2000 (N2k) network is the basis for continent-wide conservation efforts. N2k is the world’s largest coordinated network of protected areas. However, threats to ecosystems do not stop at the borders of PAs. As measured by a landscape fragmentation metric, anthropogenic development can affect the interiors of PAs. To ensure the long-term viability of the N2k network of PAs, this paper attempts to quantify the degree to which N2k sites are insulated from development pressures. We use a comprehensive dataset of effective mesh density (seff) to measure aggregate fragmentation inside and within a 5 km buffer surrounding N2k sites. Our results show a strong correlation (R² = 0.78) between fragmentation (seff) within and around N2k sites. This result applies to all biogeographical regions in Europe. Only a narrow majority (58.5%) of N2k sites are less fragmented than their surroundings. Remote and mountainous regions in northern Europe, the Alps, parts of Spain, and parts of eastern Europe show the lowest levels of fragmentation. These regions tend to hold the largest N2k sites as measured by area. In contrast, central and western Europe show the highest fragmentation levels within and around N2k sites. 24.5% of all N2k sites are classified as highly to very-highly fragmented. N2k PA age since initial protection does not correlate with the difference in exterior and interior fragmentation of N2k PAs. These results indicate that PAs in Europe are not sheltered from anthropogenic pressures leading to fragmentation. Hence, we argue that there is a high potential for improving PA efficacy by taking pre-emptive action against encroaching anthropogenic fragmentation and by targeting scarce financial resources where fragmentation pressures can be mitigated through enforced construction bans inside PAs.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Biogeography
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Biogeography > Chair Biogeography - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Carl Beierkuhnlein
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 550 Earth sciences, geology
500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2022 07:36
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2022 07:36
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/68350