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      Unique botanical values in a metropolitan area and the landscape history reasons of their occurrence on the Széchenyi Hill, Budapest

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Urban areas host several threatened species in small reserves that face habitat loss and fragmentation due to land-use change. Despite historical and current disturbances, these areas sometimes still maintain high biological diversity. As only 5% of the European Union territory was classified as natural, the permanent grasslands represent overriding value, especially in metropolitan areas. Our aim was to explore protected and adventive plant species in a small and valuable, but till now, not deeply studied area of the densely inhabited 12th district in the metropolitan city Budapest (Hungary), which is visited by large numbers of people. We compared various historical map sources in order to explain how the extension of the grasslands has changed during the past centuries and, thus, which patches are permanent grassland habitats. We found 29 protected and 1 strictly protected plant species. The highest number of protected plant species and their stands were found in the permanent grasslands. Besides urbanisation, a heavy load of tourism (especially on non-designated routes), off-road mountain biking, airsoft races, some illegal shelters for homeless people and game damage threaten this unique refuge of high natural values. The extension of grasslands between 1783 and 2016 varies from 6.7 ha to 21.5 ha. Their area constantly increased due to deforestation until 1867 and exceeded 20 ha, probably due to the mass increase in livestock grazing; then it stagnated until the 1920s, with a slight decrease due to expanding urban areas. Golf greens appeared, walker and skiing tourism increased and these apparently have not decreased the coverage of grasslands, but surely affected the composition of their species. Recent scrub encroachment and re-forestation caused a further decrease. Our distribution maps show the highest density of protected plant species on the southern slopes (2.4 hectare) that have constantly been grasslands since 1783 to date. Contrarily, the cutting of grasslands from 1861 to date contains only half of their number per area unit. Thus, the number of valuable plant specimens refers to the age of the grassland. Three species occur only in the oldest grasslands. Conservation actions should first and foremost focus on these patches.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Species and Area

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            Conservation Where People Live and Work

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              Novel urban ecosystems, biodiversity, and conservation.

               Ingo Kowarik (2015)
              With increasing urbanization the importance of cities for biodiversity conservation grows. This paper reviews the ways in which biodiversity is affected by urbanization and discusses the consequences of different conservation approaches. Cities can be richer in plant species, including in native species, than rural areas. Alien species can lead to both homogenization and differentiation among urban regions. Urban habitats can harbor self-sustaining populations of rare and endangered native species, but cannot replace the complete functionality of (semi-)natural remnants. While many conservation approaches tend to focus on such relict habitats and native species in urban settings, this paper argues for a paradigm shift towards considering the whole range of urban ecosystems. Although conservation attitudes may be challenged by the novelty of some urban ecosystems, which are often linked to high numbers of nonnative species, it is promising to consider their associated ecosystem services, social benefits, and possible contribution to biodiversity conservation. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                February 13 2019
                February 13 2019
                : 32
                : 35-50
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.32.30807
                © 2019

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