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      “Mind the gap!” – How well does Natura 2000 cover species of European interest?

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          Abstract

          Setting aside protected areas is widely recognized as one of the most effective measures to prevent species from extinction. Accordingly, there has been a tremendous effort by governments worldwide to establish protected areas, resulting in over 100,000 sites, which are set aside, to achieve the 10% target proposed at the Fourth World Park Congress in 1992 in Caracas. The main effort of the European to achieve this target is the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, comprising over 25,000 sites representing 18 % of the area of the 27 Member States of the European Union. The designation of Natura 2000 sites was based on species and habitats listed in the Annexes of the Habitats and Birds Directive. The effectiveness of the selection process and the resulting Natura 2000 network has often been questioned as each country made its designations largely independently and in most cases without considering the theories of optimal reserve site selection. However, the effectiveness of the selection process and the Natura 2000 network has never been explicitly analysed at the European scale. Here we present such an analysis focusing on the representation of Annex II species of the Habitats Directive in the Natura 2000 network relative to a random allocation of species to sites. Our results show that the network is effective in covering target species and minimizing the number of gap species (i.e. species not represented in a single site of the Natura 2000 network). We demonstrate that the representation is uneven among species. Some species are overrepresented and many species are only represented in a low number of sites. We show that this is mainly due to differing patterns in species ranges, as wide-spread species are inevitably represented in many sites, but narrow ranged species are often covered only by a small number of sites in a particular area. Finally, we propose a representation index that detects species that are underrepresented and could be used to direct future conservation efforts.

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          Aligning conservation priorities across taxa in Madagascar with high-resolution planning tools.

          Globally, priority areas for biodiversity are relatively well known, yet few detailed plans exist to direct conservation action within them, despite urgent need. Madagascar, like other globally recognized biodiversity hot spots, has complex spatial patterns of endemism that differ among taxonomic groups, creating challenges for the selection of within-country priorities. We show, in an analysis of wide taxonomic and geographic breadth and high spatial resolution, that multitaxonomic rather than single-taxon approaches are critical for identifying areas likely to promote the persistence of most species. Our conservation prioritization, facilitated by newly available techniques, identifies optimal expansion sites for the Madagascar government's current goal of tripling the land area under protection. Our findings further suggest that high-resolution multitaxonomic approaches to prioritization may be necessary to ensure protection for biodiversity in other global hot spots.
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            Global Gap Analysis: Priority Regions for Expanding the Global Protected-Area Network

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              International conservation policy delivers benefits for birds in Europe.

              Conservation of the planet's biodiversity will depend on international policy intervention, yet evidence-based assessment of the success of such intervention is lacking. Poor understanding of the effectiveness of international policy instruments exposes them to criticism or abandonment and reduces opportunities to improve them. Comparative analyses of population trends provide strong evidence for a positive impact of one such instrument, the European Union's Birds Directive, and we identify positive associations between the rate of provision of certain conservation measures through the directive and the response of bird populations. The results suggest that supranational conservation policy can bring measurable conservation benefits, although future assessments will require the setting of quantitative objectives and an increase in the availability of data from monitoring schemes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                December 17 2012
                December 17 2012
                : 3
                : 45-62
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.3.3732
                © 2012

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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