Chapter 5 Ecology

Abstract In order to preserve or regenerate ecological values throughout Europe the EU defines regulations and directives as well as the Natura 2000 areas. In the Netherlands the ecological policy not only consists of directives, but has a spatial focus also. The Ecological Main Structure defines where ecological values are to be protected and developed. At the same time a relatively rapid shift of climate zones and the accompanying ecological zones in a northeast direction can be observed.

The question is if existing policies are sufficient in dealing with the effects of a changing climate. It may well be that existing policies and regulations reach exactly the opposite of what they aim: they work restrictive and oppressive. Species and habitats, which need to move along with shifting climate zones, are bound within

Reviewed by Prof. Dr. Paul Opdam, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Department Land Use Planning, the Netherlands

R. Roggema, Adaptation to Climate Change: A Spatial Challenge, 211

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9359-3_5, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

regulated zones and are not encouraged or it is not made possible to move outside existing preservations.

In order to make climate enforced movements of ecological systems possible new strategies need to be introduced. These strategies stimulate flexibility and increase the ecological capacity and connectivity. Larger and flexible areas emerge, in which the natural system is able to function in a natural way and space is created for natural landscape forming processes. If these strategies are implemented, existing species are supported to stay in their habitat and new species are given space to enter the habitats and survive. It becomes possible for these animals and plants to leave their existing habitat and replace it by a new one.

Up till now, there are not many examples of spatial plans, which incorporate these kinds of principles. Realisation of ecological zones is mainly based on existing species and habitats and current ecological values. Anticipation on the effects of a changing climate cannot be found back in spatial planning. Research carried out in the BRANCH project, and the use of this knowledge in the Groningen case, illustrates that it is possible to define ecological requirements in a spatial manner and to implement these in spatial planning and design. Natural processes, like illustrated by the climate buffers, can be given the required space and the improvement of the ecological dynamic is better possible. The resilience in the ecological system increases and the system is better equipped to deal with the effects of climate changes.

This chapter deals with the spatial possibilities to improve the ecological chances to cope with the effects of climate change. The impact of climate change on ecology as such is not taken into account.

5.1 Introduction

In the perspective that the natural resources and biodiversity on the globe under pressure is, a lot of policies are carried out to prevent further degradation of the natural qualities (IPCC, 2007). These policies aim to support threatened species and preserve nature reserves. In Europe, several directives, and in the Netherlands spatial policies are developed to do so. The question may be raised if these aims still can be reached if circumstances are changing due to climate change. And if not so, which alternative adaptation strategies can be developed. In this chapter the focus lies on possible spatial adaptation strategies. The shortcomings of existing regulations, the effects of climate change for nature and several spatial adaptation strategies, such as the connection and enlargement of nature areas as well as climate buffers, are described.

5.2 Directives

The EU established two acts regarding the preservation of birds and habitats (Jans et al., 2000). These directives outline which animals and plants and their living environment (habitat) needs to be protected by all member states of the EU.

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