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Implementing the Habitats Directive: How science can support decision making
Louette, G.; Adriaens, A.; Paelinckx, D.; Hoffmann, M. (2015). Implementing the Habitats Directive: How science can support decision making. J. Nat. Conserv. 23: 27-34. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.jnc.2014.12.002
In: Journal for Nature Conservation. Elsevier: Jena. ISSN 1617-1381; e-ISSN 1618-1093, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Management
    Monitoring
Author keywords
    Favourable conservation status; measures; Natura 2000; Reference values

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Abstract
    The overall goal of the Habitats Directive is to maintain or restore natural habitats and species in a favourable conservation status. An important role in the implementation process is assigned to science. For three core elements, defining the favourable conservation status, development of best practice measures, and monitoring of the conservation status, we outline how science can support decision making. To do so, we use experiences from the ongoing process in Flanders (northern Belgium). First, when determining the favourable conservation status, information on reference values are embedded in a specifically developed calibration model where thresholds on range, area, and quality are set for habitats. Subsequently, socio-economical requirements are taken into consideration, without compromising the favourable conservation status. When it comes to conducting measures, science adds to the knowledge on developing and optimizing cost-effective conservation and restoration management measures. Finally, monitoring of the conservation status will be based on the principle of statistically sound methodologies, enabling the identification of reliability in the assessments made. For habitats, information on area will be gathered through a surface-covering mapping, while quality will be assessed via a sample-oriented monitoring scheme. For species, maximal collaboration with non-governmental organisations will be undertaken, with scientific support on data recording and processing. Overall, the obtained insights will help policy makers to define the framework and set priorities, take the appropriate measures, and keep a finger on the pulse through monitoring data.

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