Application, validation and comparison in different geographical contexts of an integrated model for the design of ecological networks
AbstractThe issue of the fragmentation of natural habitats is increasingly at the core of the scientific debate, but often not taken into due consideration in planning tools, with particular reference to the dynamism and complexity of landscapes. As it has been recognised at a European level, in order to allow different species to remain in good functional status, a network of green infrastructures should be implemented. The concept of ecological island is no longer sufficient to protect adequately the fauna and the ecosystem it lives in. Consequently, ecological islands must turn into ecological networks. The ecological connectivity refers to the way habitats are physically connected to each other and how easy it is for species to move in. Good ecological connectivity is fundamental to the effective conservation of biodiversity considering that most species and ecological functions provided by ecosystems (ecosystem services) require a much wider space than that available within the boundaries of a single protected area. The main objective of this paper is to critically compare the application of a dedicated model for the design of ecological networks to two very different environmental contexts. This model was first tested in a Mediterranean area (the province of Reggio Calabria) in 2008 and updated in 2010. The main goal was to integrate the traditional (physiographic and functional) approaches into the design of ecological networks by taking into account biological and orographic elements as well as the anthropic structure of the territory. In 2011, within the ECONNECT European project, the same model was applied to the Pilot region of South- Western Alps (including the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and the Italian regions Piedmont and Liguria), which is one of the richest transnational districts in Europe in terms of biodiversity. In such a region, the issue of multidisciplinary ecological connectivity was tackled in order to provide a series of proposals aiming at the development of the ecological potential of the area. The two applications allowed to further investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the implemented model by integrating its validation also by means of information on faunal presence, which obviated one of the major limitations occurred in the first application.
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Copyright (c) 2015 Carmelo Riccardo Fichera, Luigi Laudari, Giuseppe Modica
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