Restoring and managing ecological corridors in mountains as the green infrastructure in the Danube basin
Through the ConnectGREEN project, partners from different countries and various fields of activity (i.e. spatial planning, research, government, biodiversity conservation) joined forces to increase the capacity of ecological corridors identification and management, and to overcome the conflict between infrastructure development and wildlife conservation. Valuable knowledge and experience will be made available to spatial planners and vice versa for finding the best ways to develop infrastructure and other plans in order to secure ecological connectivity in the Carpathians.
The ecological corridors will be identified in more detail by using the new Carpathian-wide methodology in four pilot sites:
- Piatra Craiului National Park (Romania)
- Apuseni-SW Carpathians (Romania) / National Park Djerdap (Serbia)
- Western Carpathians (Czech Republic - Slovakia)
- Bükk National Park (Hungary) / Cerová vrchovina Protected Landscape Area (Slovakia)
Maintaining or restoring ecological corridors will secure a viable population of large carnivores in the Carpathians and maintain one of the largest biodiversity hotspots and functioning ecosystems on the continent. Moreover, this new joint approach is meant to accelerate the implementation processes and put into practice much-awaited infrastructure developments that face the risk of being delayed due to non-conformity with safety and environmental standards.
The Danube-Carpathian region is one of Europe´s last remaining strongholds for the large carnivore species — i.e. grey wolf, Eurasian lynx, and brown bear — protected under EU law. Unfortunately, the planned infrastructure developments threaten to cut through the movement corridors of large carnivores and increase the fragmentation of their habitats.
Very few joint development plans have been made to provide a best practice for integrated grey infrastructure development embed nature protection needs. The main problem is the lack of knowledge and experience to ensure that conflicts between infrastructure development and nature conservation are minimised as they develop new plans. More importantly, legally binding mechanisms taking into consideration the requirements of functioning ecological corridors are poorly implemented — mainly, due to the lack of reliable data, and appropriately set planning timeframe. To solve this set of problems, a coherent transnational approach is required, including includes an outlook on the large carnivores' frequent migration patterns across state borders in search of food, mates, and other needs.
Goals & Objectives
- To maintain and improve the ecological connectivity between natural habitats, especially between Natura 2000 sites and other protected areas of transnational relevance in the Carpathian ecoregion — namely, in Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine.
- Develop innovative solutions and guidance to identify ecological corridors and connectivity gaps in a harmonized way across the Carpathian ecoregion to maintain long-term, cross-border wildlife movement, associated ecosystem services, and a high level of biodiversity in the region.
- Engage protected area and Natura 2000 site managers, conservationists, spatial planners, and other key stakeholders in an integrated approach for strengthening the capacity for identifying and managing ecological corridors.
- Reconcile nature conservation and spatial planning and development in ecological corridors and Natura 2000 sites by identifying and implementing strategic directions and instruments and practices.
- Develop a methodology for identifying ecological corridors.
- Produce a State-of-the-Art Report on the existing planning systems and their application for ecological corridor identification and management.
- Produce a GAP analysis report on the identification of the needs for improving the planning processes and tools.
- Bring forth a set of recommendations — developed together with spatial planners — to avoid/minimise the fragmentation of ecological corridors and Natura 2000 sites.
- Develop an ecological connectivity related database under the Carpathian Countries Integrated Biodiversity Information System (CCIBIS).
- Produce a database with all relevant spatial information in each pilot site.
- Deliver maps with the distribution of target species, core areas, ecological corridors, and critical barrier sites in each pilot area.
- Develop a strategy on the identification, preservation and management of eco-corridors
- Produce a roadmap to integrating ecological corridors in spatial planning
- Carry out a feasibility check to improve the EIA Directive
Types of services
- GIS modelling