Habitat Directive

The Habitat Directive (92/43/EEG) aims to maintain the richness of plants and animals (biodiversity) by protecting their natural living environments. Like the Birds Directive prescribes, the Habitat Directive enforces Member States also to define special protection zones and maintain these. The obligatory measures to be taken on the basis of the Directive aim to maintain or restore the natural habitats and wild

http://dataservice. eea.europa.eu/atlas)"/>
Fig. 5.1 Birds Directive locations in different biogeographical regions (Source: http://dataservice. eea.europa.eu/atlas)

species of Community interest. In this respect, a much larger number of plant and animal species are listed under the Habitat Directive than under the Birds Directive and consists of obligations on the protection of wild animals and plants as described in the Bern Treaty.

The obligations in the Directive can be divided in two categories: on the one hand side obligations that secure the preservation of natural habitats and habitats of species and on the other hand obligations regarding the protection of species. Both categories aim to maintain or restore a favourable status of preservation.

Natural habitats are defined as 'land and water zones, which contain special geographical, abiotic and biotic characteristics, which can be both natural as semi-natural'. Habitats of Community interest are habitats, which are in danger of extinction or under threat of minimising their natural dispersion area or are a special showcase for one of the five biogeographical regions within the EU (Fig. 5.2).

The definition of the habitats of species in the Directive is as follows: a, through biotic and abiotic factors determined, environment, where the species during one of its biological cycles lives. In Annex II of the Directive a list of plant and animal species of Community interest is included, for which the protection of their habitats is important for their preservation. These species are threatened, vulnerable, rare or indigenous and need therefore special attention

In order to protect species the Member States need to implement a 'system of strict protection' regarding species of Community interest. As far as animal species are concerned the system of protection includes prohibits:

Fig. 5.1 (continued)

Fig. 5.1 (continued)

• To deliberately kill or capture naturally wild living animals

• To destroy, damage or collect nests and eggs;

• To disturb them deliberately, especially in periods of reproduction, dependency of breed, hibernation and migration;

• To destroy or damage reproduction or resting places;

• To sale, transport for sale, detention for sale and offering for sale of live and dead animals.

The system of strict protection of plants contain prohibits:

• To deliberately collect cut, uproot or destroy plant species;

• To sale, transport for sale, detention for sale and offering for sale of plants retrieved from nature. An example of a combined bird's and habitat directive for the Wadden Sea area in the Netherlands is given in Fig. 5.3.

Fig. 5.1 (continued)

Fig. 5.1 (continued)

5.3 Natura 2000

The Habitats Directive is intended to help maintain biodiversity in the Member States by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of Community interest. Together with the Birds Directive it establishes a European ecological network known as "Natura 2000" (Fig. 5.4). The network comprises "special areas of conservation" designated by Member States

SpMial P'Dlcctian Aiffjj iirdtr Hia EU Binll > rrti.ri In the M«Jitflrrin«fi

FJirtyHKjg I J Dhir j Rtyinn

SpMial P'Dlcctian Aiffjj iirdtr Hia EU Binll > rrti.ri In the M«Jitflrrin«fi

FJirtyHKjg I J Dhir j Rtyinn

Fig. 5.2 The biogeographical regions within the EU

in accordance with the provisions of the Habitats Directive, and special protection areas classified pursuant to the Birds Directive on the conservation of wild birds.

Annexes I (Natural habitat types of Community interest) and II (Animal and plant species of Community interest) to the Habitats Directive list the habitats and species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation. Some of them are defined as 'priority' habitats or species (in danger of disappearing). Annex IV lists animal and plant species in need of particularly strict protection.

Fig. 5.3 Example of Birds Directive (left) and Habitat Directive in The Wadden Sea area (Source: Ministerie van VROM et al., 2006b)

Special areas of conservation are designated in three stages. Following the criteria set out in the annexes, each Member State must draw up a list of sites hosting natural habitats and wild fauna and flora. On the basis of the national lists and by agreement with the Member States, the Commission will then adopt a list of sites of Community importance. No later than 6 years after the selection of a site of Community importance, the Member State concerned must designate it as a special area of conservation.

Where the Commission considers that a site which hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species has been omitted from a national list, the Directive provides for a bilateral consultation procedure to be initiated between that Member State and the Commission. If the result of the consultation is unsatisfactory, the Commission must forward a proposal to the Council relating to the selection of the site as a site of Community importance.

Member States must take all necessary measures to guarantee the conservation of habitats in special areas of conservation, and to avoid their deterioration. The Directive provides for co-financing of conservation measures by the Community. Member States must also:

• Encourage the management of features of the landscape which are essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species;

• Establish systems of strict protection for those animal and plant species which are particularly threatened (Annex IV) and study the desirability of reintroducing those species in their territory;

• Prohibit the use of non-selective methods of taking, capturing or killing certain animal and plant species (Annex V).

The Member States and the Commission must encourage research and scientific work that can contribute to the objectives of the Directive.

The directives and the obligations in the Natura 2000 areas are very strict and relatively unchangeable. A detailed map of the Natura 2000 areas in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands, is given in Fig. 5.5. The basis for the regulations is formed by existing or threatened species and their habitats and not by future opportunities for in the area unknown species and their habitat requirements. Especially if climate changes rapidly shifting species meet a lack of suitable habitat to settle. This might cause ecological problems in the future, because unchangeable circumstances

Fig. 5.4 Natura 2000, a combination of the allocated areas derived from the Habitats and Birds Directive
Fig. 5.5 Detailed map of the Natura 2000 areas in Groningen province, the Netherlands (Source, Provincie Groningen)

will prove a wrong basis for a changed ecological demand. Thus instead of preparing a network, which helps endangered species and habitats the stiff protective rules withstand an emerging climate adaptive nature.

5.4 Dutch Spatial-Ecological Concepts 5.4.1 Ecological Main Structure

The Dutch government decided in the nineties that spatial measures wee required to realise ecological goals. The nature in the Netherlands was in bad shape, degraded and of low quality, due to several environmental impacts, such as bad water quality and due to urban developments, which caused shrinkage of nature reserves and caused the cutting of nature areas in pieces. The decision was made to create a network in the Netherlands, which connects and enlarged nature areas: the Ecological Main Structure (Fig. 5.6). Because of the fact that nature areas are better connected, plants and animals are better capable of moving from one area to another and this results in a lower vulnerability of the species for environmental impacts. Larger areas favour greater diversity and are suitable for more species, which make them less vulnerable for disasters, weather extremes and environmental impacts.

Fig. 5.6 Ecological main structure in the Netherlands (Source: Feddes et al., 1998)
Fig. 5.7 Ecological goals in the Netherlands (Source: Ministerie van LNV, 2006)

Every area in the Ecological Main structure has its own ecological goal (Fig. 5.7), which describes the desired nature quality of the location. If the ecological goals are reached and the areas form a coherent system, the Ecological Main Structure is finished. In 2018 the Ecological Main Structure contains 728,500 ha, which is around 17.5% of the entire Dutch surface. The aim is to have realised in 2020 around 750,000 ha. Most of this Structure exists in the form of forests and nature areas, which will be added by new nature and wet nature (Fig. 5.8). According the regulations around the Ecological Main Structure more or less 150,000 ha of agricultural grounds are replaced with nature (Ministerie van LNV, 2006).

In order to prevent nature areas to become isolated, connections are necessary, which provide species the possibility to return after leaving an area due to illnesses. Connections improve the exchange of different species and it supports a good health. These robust connections add 27,000 ha new nature (Fig. 5.8).

The Ecological Main Structure is built up out of core areas, nature development areas and connections:

• Core areas are nature reserves, estates, forests, large water areas and valuable agricultural culture landscapes with a minimum size of 250 ha;

• Nature development areas are areas with good perspectives to develop natural values of national or international interest;

• Connections are areas, which connect core- and development areas with each other.

Fig. 5.8 Search maps for new nature (upper), robust connections (middle) and wet nature (under) (Source: Ministerie van LNV, 2006)
Fig. 5.8 (continued)

The aim is to connect the Ecological Main Structure with foreign ecological structures.

The realisation of the Ecological Main Structure is tough, due to landownership and debate on the exact boundaries of nature areas. Beside this difficulties in the execution, the question may be raised how the ecological structure as planned behaves under changing climatic conditions. If climate zones are shifting and new species enter a certain area, these ecological structures need to adapt as well. Probably, the Ecological Main Structure is not able compensate the negative effects of climate change entirely. In that case, added measures are necessary (Alterra, 2006).

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment