Talk, International Biogeographical Society meeting: Climate Change Biogeography, Évora, Portugal: 2018-03-20 - 2018-03-24
Protected areas (PA) are of high importance under as well societal as ecological perspective. They are legal entities and also more or less fixed spatial units. Their surface is assigned to maintain and support specific biota, communities or ecosystems. Counteracting human activities are prohibited. However, there is a high diversity of regulations ranging from a global perspective (World Heritage Sites) to continental (e.g. European Directives) and national (National Parks) or even regional scale (Nature Reserves). In contrast do species that might migrate, disperse or be translocated, and also in contrast do ecosystems, designated protected areas will not change location. They may lose or gain quality in terms of species richness, genepool, key species, ecosystem functions and services. Here, we present an analysis of the European network of protected areas, detecting sensitivities and weaknesses in terms of future climatic trends. Spatial constellations of PA, aspects of biodiversity and biogeography, habitat and ecosystem types, climate and site conditions, and the landscape matrix and fragmentation are considered. We identify need for action and suggest proactive adaptation strategies. Possible limits for management and new prospects are highlighted. Concepts for long-term monitoring and data management are discussed. This study contributes to the European Horizon 2020 project ECOPOTENTIAL that is blending Earth Observations from remote sensing and field measurements, data analysis and modelling of current and future ecosystem conditions and services.