Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-m42fx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-20T06:04:12.692Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Rapid assessment of historic, current and future habitat quality for biodiversity around UK Natura 2000 sites

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2014

School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Open University of Cyprus, PO Box 12794, Cyprus
School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AR, UK
Environmental Systems Analysis Subdivision, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700AA Wageningen, The Netherlands School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK
Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7044, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AR, UK
*Correspondence: Ioannis Vogiatzakis Tel: +357 22411933 Fax: +357 22411671 e-mail:


Changes in landscape composition and structure may impact the conservation and management of protected areas. Species that depend on specific habitats are at risk of extinction when these habitats are degraded or lost. Designing robust methods to evaluate landscape composition will assist decision- and policy-making in emerging landscapes. This paper describes a rapid assessment methodology aimed at evaluating land-cover quality for birds, plants, butterflies and bees around seven UK Natura 2000 sites. An expert panel assigned quality values to standard Coordination of Information on the Environment (CORINE) land-cover classes for each taxonomic group. Quality was assessed based on historical (1950, 1990), current (2000) and future (2030) land-cover data, the last projected using three alternative scenarios: a growth-applied strategy (GRAS), a business-as-might-be-usual (BAMBU) scenario, and sustainable European development goal (SEDG) scenario. A quantitative quality index weighted the area of each land-cover parcel with a taxa-specific quality measure. Land parcels with high quality for all taxonomic groups were evaluated for temporal changes in area, size and adjacency. For all sites and taxonomic groups, the rate of deterioration of land-cover quality was greater between 1950 and 1990 than current rates or as modelled using the alternative future scenarios (2000–2030). Model predictions indicated land-cover quality stabilized over time under the GRAS scenario, and was close to stable for the BAMBU scenario. The SEDG scenario suggested an ongoing loss of quality, though this was lower than the historical rate of c. 1% loss per decade. None of the future scenarios showed accelerated fragmentation, but rather increases in the area, adjacency and diversity of high quality land parcels in the landscape.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Araújo, M.B., Cabeza, M., Thuiller, W., Hannah, L. & Williams, P.H. (2004) Would climate change drive species out of reserves? An assessment of existing reserve-selection methods. Global Change Biology 10: 16181626.Google Scholar
Alexander, R. & Millington, A., eds (2000) Vegetation Mapping: from Patch to Planet. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons: 339 pp.Google Scholar
Bengtsson, J., Angelstam, P., Elmqvist, T., Emanuelsson, U., Folke, C., Ihse, M., Moberg, F. & Nyström, M. (2003) Reserves, resilience and dynamic landscapes. Ambio 32: 389396.Google Scholar
Brandt, J. & Vejre, H., eds (2003) Multifunctional Landscapes Volume 1, Theory, Values and History. Southampton, UK: WIT Press.Google Scholar
Brotons, L., Mönkkönen, M. & Martin, J.L. (2003) Are fragments islands? Landscape context and density–area relationships in boreal forest birds. American Naturalist 162: 343357.Google Scholar
Bunce, R.G.H., Metzger, M.J., Jongman, R.H.G., Brandt, J., de Blust, G., Elena-Rossello, R., Groom, G.B., Halada, L., Hofer, G., Howard, D.C., Kovář, P., Mücher, C.A., Padoa-Schioppa, E., Paelinx, D., Palo, A., Perez-Soba, M., Ramos, I.L., Roche, P., Skånes, H. & Wrbka, T. (2008) A standardized procedure for surveillance and monitoring European habitats and provision of spatial data. Landscape Ecology 23: 1125.Google Scholar
Commission of the EC (2010) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: options for an EU vision and target for biodiversity beyond 2010 [www document]. URL Google Scholar
Council of Europe (2000) European Landscape Convention. Florence 20.X.2000. European Treaty Series CETS No .176 [www document]. URL Google Scholar
Cousins, S.A.O. (2009) Extinction debt in fragmented grasslands: paid or not? Journal of Vegetation Science 20: 37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
EEA (2004) High nature value farmland: characteristics, trends and policy challenges. European Environment Agency Report 1/2004. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities [www document]. URL Google Scholar
European Commission (1994) CORINE land cover technical guide. Report EUR 12585EN, Office for Official Publications of the European Community, Luxembourg: 144 pp.Google Scholar
Fahrig, L. (2003) Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 34: 487515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Forman, R.T.T. (1995) Land Mosaics: The Ecology of Landscapes and Regions. Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press: 632 pp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gerard, F., Petit, S., Smith, G., Thomson, A., Brown, N., Manchester, S., Wadsworth, R., Bugar, G., Halada, L., Beza´k, P., Boltiziar, M., De Badts, E., Halabuk, A., Mojses, M., Petrovic, F., Gregor, M., Hazeu, G., Mücher, C.A., Wachowicz, M., Huitu, H., Tuominen, S., Köhler, R., Olschofsky, K., Ziese, H., Kolar, J., Sustera, J., Luque, S., Pino, J., Pons, X., Roda, F., Roscher, M. & Feranec, J. (2010) Land cover change in Europe between 1950 and 2000 determined employing aerial photography. Progress in Physical Geography 34: 183194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Griffiths, G.H., Vogiatzakis, I.N., Porter, J. & Burrows, C. (2011) A landscape scale spatial model for semi-natural broadleaf woodland expansion in Wales, UK. Journal for Nature Conservation 19: 4353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haddad, N.M. & Tewksbury, J.J. (2005) Low-quality habitat corridors as movement conduits for two butterfly species. Ecological Applications 15: 250257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haines-Young, R. (2009) Land use and biodiversity relationships. Land Use Policy 26(suppl. 1): S178186.Google Scholar
Herold, M., Woodcock, C., Di Gregorio, A., Mayaux, B., Latham, J. & Schmullius, C. (2006) A joint initiative for harmonization and validation of land cover datasets. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 44: 17191727.Google Scholar
Hill, M.O., Roy, D.B, Mountford, J. O. & Bunce, R G. H. (2000) Extending Ellenberg's indicator values to a new area: an algorithmic approach. Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 315.Google Scholar
Johnson, M. (2007) Measuring habitat quality. The Condor 109: 489504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jongman, R.H.G. & Pungetti, G. (2004) Ecological Networks and Greenways: Concept, Design, Implementation. Cambridge Studies in Landscape Ecology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Krauss, J., Bommarco, R., Guardiola, M., Heikkinen, R.K., Helm, A., Kuussaari, M., Lindborg, R., Öckinger, E., Pärtel, M., Pino, J., Pöyry, J., Raatikainen, K.M., Sang, A., Stefanescu, C., Teder, T., Zobel, M. & Steffan-Dewenter, I. (2010) Habitat fragmentation causes immediate and time-delayed biodiversity loss at different trophic levels. Ecology Letters. 13: 597605.Google Scholar
Köhler, R., Olschofsky, K. & Gerard, F., eds (2006) Land cover change in Europe from the 1950ies to 2000. Aerial Photo Interpretation and Derived Statistics from 59 Samples Distributed Across. Hamburg, Germany: Institute for Worldforestry, University of Hamburg: 364 pp.Google Scholar
Kupfer, J.A., Malanson, G.P. & Franklin, S.B. (2006) Not seeing the ocean for the islands: the mediating influence of matrix-based processes on forest fragmentation effects. Global Ecology and Biogeography 15: 820.Google Scholar
Kuussaari, M., Bommarco, R., Heikkinen, R.K., Helm, A., Krauss, J., Lindborg, R., Öckinger, E., Pärtel, M., Pino, J., Roda, F., Stefanescu, C., Teder, T., Zobel, M. & Steffan-Dewenter, I. (2009) Extinction debt: a challenge for biodiversity conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24: 564571.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lang, S. & Tiede, D. (2003) vLATE Extension für ArcGIS: vektorbasiertes tool zur quantitativen 324 landschaftsstrukturanalyse. CD-ROM, ESRI Anwenderkonferenz 2003 Innsbruck, Austria.Google Scholar
Lee, J.T. & Thompson, S. (2005) Targeting sites for habitat creation: an investigation into alternative scenarios. Landscape Urban Planning 71: 1728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lindborg, R. & Eriksson, O. (2004) Historical landscape connectivity affects present plant species diversity. Ecology 85: 18401845.Google Scholar
Lindborg, R., Bengtsson, J., Berg, Å., Cousins, S.A.O., Eriksson, O., Gustafsson, T., Hasund, K.-P., Lenoir, L., Pihlgren, A., Sjödin, E. & Stenseke, M. (2008) A landscape perspective on conservation of semi-natural grasslands. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 125: 213222.Google Scholar
Luque, S. & Vainikainen, N. (2008) Habitat quality assessment and modelling for forest biodiversity and sustainability. In: Patterns and Processes in Forest Landscapes: Multiple Use and Sustainable Management, ed. Lafortezza, R., Sanesi, G., Chen, J. & Crow, T.R., pp. 241264. The Netherlands: Springer Netherlands.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
MacGarigal, K. (2013) Fragstats HELP. version 4 [www document]. URL Google Scholar
McDermid, G., Franklin, S.E. & LeDrew, E.F. (2005) Remote sensing for large-area habitat mapping. Progress in Physical Geography 29: 449474.Google Scholar
MEA (2005) Ecosystems and Human Well Being. Washington, DC, USA: Island Press.Google Scholar
Norris, K. & Harper, N. (2004) Extinction processes in the hotspots of biodiversity and the targeting of pre-emptive conservation action. Proceedings Royal Society London B 271: 123130.Google Scholar
Öckinger, E., Bergman, K.O., Franzén, M., Kadlec, T., Krauss, J., Kuussaari, M., Pöyry, J., Smith, H.G., Steffan-Dewenter, I. & Bommarco, R. (2012a) The landscape matrix modifies the effect of habitat fragmentation in grassland butterflies. Landscape Ecology 27: 121131.Google Scholar
Öckinger, E., Lindborg, R., Sjödin, N.E. & Bommarco, R. (2012b) Landscape matrix modifies species richness of plants and insects in grassland fragments. Ecography 35: 259267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oliver, T., Roy, D.B., Hill, J.K., Brereton, T. & Thomas, C. (2010) Heterogeneous landscapes promote population stability. Ecology Letters 13: 473484.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Papageorgiou, K. & Vogiatzakis, I.N. (2006) Nature protection in Greece: an appraisal of the factors shaping integrative conservation and policy effectiveness. Environmental. Science and Policy 9: 476486.Google Scholar
Parkhurst, G. M., Shogren, J. F., Bastian, C., Kivi, P., Donner, J. & Smith, R.B.W. (2002) Agglomeration bonus: an incentive mechanism to reunite fragmented habitat for biodiversity conservation. Ecological Economics 41: 305328.Google Scholar
Reginster, I., Rounsevell, M., Butler, A. & Dendoncker, N. (2010) Land use change scenarios for Europe. In: Atlas of Biodiversity Risk, ed. Settele, J., Penev, L., Georgiev, T., Grabaum, R., Grobelnik, V., Hammen, V., Klotz, S., Kotarac, M. & Kühn, I., pp. 100–105. Sofia, Bulgaria and Moscow, Russia: Pensoft Publishing: 300 pp.Google Scholar
Rickebusch, S., Metzger, M., Xu, G., Vogiatzakis, I.N., Potts, S.G., Stirpe, M.T. & Rounsevell, M. (2011) A qualitative method for the spatial and thematic downscaling of land-use change scenarios. Environmental Science and Policy 14: 268278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rounsevell, M.D.A. & Metzger, M.J. (2010) Developing qualitative scenario storylines for environmental change assessment. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1: 606619.Google Scholar
Rounsevell, M.D.A., Berry, P.M. & Harrison, P.A. (2006a) Future environmental change impacts on rural land use and biodiversity: a synthesis of the ACCELERATES project. Environmental Science and Policy 9: 93100.Google Scholar
Rounsevell, M.D.A., Reginster, I., Araujo, M.B., Carter, T.R., Dendoncker, N., Ewert, F., House, J.I., Kankaanpaa, S., Leemans, R., Metzger, M.J., Schmit, C., Smith, P. & Tuck, G. (2006b) A coherent set of future land use change scenarios for Europe. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 114: 5768.Google Scholar
Spangenberg, J., Carter, T., Fronzek, S., Jaeger, J., Jylhä, K., Kühn, I., Omann, I., Paul, A., Reginster, I., Rounsevell, M.D.A., Schweiger, O., Stocker, A., Sykes, M. & Settele, J. (2012) Scenarios for investigating risks to biodiversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thomson, A.G., Manchester, S.J., Swetnam, R.D., Smith, G.M., Wadsworth, R.A., Petit, S. & Gerard, F.F. (2007) The use of digital aerial photography and CORINE-derived methodology for monitoring recent and historic changes in land cover near UK Natura 2000 sites for the BIOPRESS project. International Journal of Remote Sensing 28: 53975426.Google Scholar
Tscharntke, T., Klein, A.M., Kruess, A., Steffan-Dewenter, I.A. & Thies, C. (2005) Landscape perspectives on agricultural intensification and biodiversity- ecosystem service management. Ecology Letters 8: 857874.Google Scholar
Turner, M. (2005) Landscape ecology: what is the state of the science. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 36: 319344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
NEA, UK (2011) The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: the synthesis of the key findings. Report, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK [www document]. URL Google Scholar
Vandermeer, J. & Carvajal, R. (2001) Metapopulation dynamics and the quality of the matrix. American Naturalist 158: 211220.Google Scholar
Verburg, P.H., Eickhout, B. & van Meijl, H. (2008) A multi-scale, multi-model approach for analyzing the future dynamics of European land use. Annals of Regional Science 42: 5777.Google Scholar
Verburg, P.H., Schulp, C.J.E., Witte, N. & Veldkamp, A. (2006) Downscaling of land use change scenarios to assess the dynamics of European landscapes. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 114: 3956.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Vogiatzakis Supplementary Material

Appendix 1

Download Vogiatzakis Supplementary Material(File)
File 110.6 KB