Rienk-Jan Bijlsma, André Jansen, John Janssen, Gilbert Maas, Marcel Pleijte, Piet Schipper & Hans Wondergem

Natura 2000, natuurlijke kenmerken, instandhoudingsdoel, natuurlijke dynamiek, landschapsecologische systeemanalyse

Opportunities for more naturalness in Natura 2000 sites

Natura 2000, management plan, conservation objective, constitutive characteristics, natural dynamics, landscape
ecological systems analysis, site integrity

The formulation of conservation objectives for species and habitats of the Birds and Habitats Directives in Natura 2000 sites raises questions about opportunities for natural dynamics and the insurance of alternative habitats (more naturalness). We argue that a landscapeecological systems analysis (LESA) is needed to provide consistent and durable conservation targets. First, we propose to apply the LESA to nature values (instead of objectives) and to include non-Natura 2000 values to anticipate interactions and possible conflicts. Based on this LESA, agreement on an explicit systems vision must result in prioritized nature values, both biotic and abiotic, and corresponding objectives (‘constitutive characteristics’ related to the integrity of the site). Secondly, we introduce the distinction between vulnerable and robust objectives. The latter only need site-specific lower limits for area or population size. Above these limits fluctuations in area or size are considered favourable which ensures the extra room needed for natural dynamics. The approach is illustrated for the coastal Natura 2000 site Schoorlse Duinen and quantified for its dune grasslands and heath types.

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