The Continuum Project: Catalogue of possible measures to improve ecological connectivity in the Alps (2009)

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This catalogue of measures has been elaborated in the frame of the Ecological Continuum Project. It lists a number of exemplary measures from the various Alpine countries that can contribute to the implementation of ecological networks.

Nature protection in protected areas alone is not sufficient for the long-term conservation of Alpine biodiversity. Successful nature protection and the associated conservation of biodiversity require ecologically compatible action across the entire space, particularly outside protected areas. The landscape can be enhanced through targeted measures and support programmes which focus on nature conservation. These can contribute to the implementation of an ecological network by facilitating the connectivity of habitats and protected areas.

An ecological network is made up of different components: alongside core zones, there are also connecting elements and buffer zones. These connecting elements may be linear (e.g. corridors such as hedges, forest strips or appropriately maintained streams) or patch-type (e.g. stepping stone biotopes). A key characteristic of these elements, however, is that they are not clearly defined and demarcated areas, and nor do they necessarily enjoy protected status. On the contrary, highly diverse spaces and structures within the landscape can take on this role if they are designed in an ecologically compatible and functional manner and are managed appropriately.

The measures listed in this catalogue therefore have a very important role to play. They offer examples of how, using targeted measures and actions, areas and structures can be created, conserved or restored so that they act as connecting elements within an ecological network. Suitably adapted practices are also listed here. Very often, minor changes can be introduced to greatly enhance the functionality of individual spaces, without prohibitions or restrictions needing to be imposed.

Nature conservation measures in particular can also contribute to the development of a biotope network. To this end, they must be implemented within the framework of a biotope networking project, which means considering the requirements of the biotope network from a broader spatial perspective and implementing the project in areas of particular importance for ecological connectivity, or targeting particular species.

The catalogue of measures has been developed as a tool to support the work in the pilot regions of the Ecological Continuum and the ECONNECT projects. However, it can and should also be used by other regions and actors in and outside the Alpine space who want to improve ecological connectivity. The catalogue is intended to offer stakeholders examples and ideas and also provides practical information such as the names of contact persons and references. In addition, the descriptions of the various measures include a brief evaluation of economic and ecological aspects wherever the authors had sufficient information available for this purpose.

A key characteristic of the catalogue is its practical approach. Its content should therefore not be regarded as scientifically-based research, but as a source of inspiration that will bring users closer to the  topic of “ecological networks”. It identifies practical examples and can thus act as a valuable source of ideas for users in the pilot regions. The catalogue also provides an overview of the various sectors and areas where measures to improve ecological connectivity could be beneficial.

The catalogue should not be regarded as a complete and definitive document; on the contrary, it should be supplemented and enhanced on an ongoing basis with new examples, especially those based on practical experience gained in the individual regional projects being implemented in the pilot regions.
Language: English
Imprint: ALPARC, ISCAR, CIPRA and WWF: http://www.alparc.org/content/download/22331/211169/version/18/file/eMeasureCatalogueContinuum.pdf 2009
Series: Report,
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