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Adaptive management of climate-induced changes of habitat diversity in protected areas (HABIT-CHANGE)
Start date: Feb 28, 2010, End date: Feb 27, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Biodiversity is threatened by habitat degradation and destruction. Human activity comprising intensification of agriculture, urbanisation and expanding infrastructure is the main driver for ongoing habitat loss. Core zones and controlled natural zones in National Parks or Sites of Community Importance (SCI) within the Natura 2000 network are established to halt the loss of biodiversity by providing and conserving habitat space for the critical mix of species. Climate change will become an additional important driver influencing habitats and their quality in the next decades. Thus, the European network of protected sites is challenged by anthropogenic actions and climate change (hereinafter referred to as CC). Nature conservation agencies have to cope with potential modifications of habitat composition induced by CC and the fact that the targeted conservation may no longer be valid. Scenarios and indicators applied for the local scale are missing and likewise there is a lack of knowledge. The direction of future changes and how this matches with a long-term impact of management measures are unclear. At site-level, precipitation might de- or increase and shift its seasonality, leading to different preconditions for the remaining natural habitats, esp. water-based ecosystems such as wetlands and rivers but also the composition of forested areas and grasslands. To monitor changes through time (history, present state, short term future, long term future and to adapt management strategies and consider flexible response to ongoing developments are the main challenges. The project Habit Change will identify and monitor past, recent and potential future change processes in protected areas which are driven by anthropogenic activities such as altered land use and climate change and develop adapted and flexible management strategies and guidelines which are able to respond to these changes and thus helping to protect natural resources and heritage. Achievements: Changing climate and land use are threatening the world's most valuable hot spots of biodiversity such as national parks, biosphere reserves and nature parks. Adaptation to these changes is of highest priority. HABIT-CHANGE is developing strategies to make conservation management in European protected areas fit for the challenges of climate change. The project brings together site managers, conservation agencies and research institutions from all over Central Europe. This unique science-practice partnership is jointly analysing local impacts of climate change and responses of habitats and ecosystems. Within HABIT-CHANGE a network of meteorological stations was installed in Balaton Upland National Park and several other protected areas. In addition, up-to-date technologies for satellite observation and monitoring in the field are applied in Natural Park Bucegi, Rieserferner Ahrn Nature Park, Vessertal Biosphere Reserve and Hainich National Park. This provides the scientific background and reliable data for the detection of changes in nature and current challenges for the conservation of biodiversity. In the period from September 2012 to February 2013, main focus of HABIT-CHANGE was on the organisation of events and presentation of results. More than 125 participants from 30 countries participated in the International Conference for Protected Areas Under Climate Change (IMPACT) in Dresden. The conference provided a perfect platform to discuss the results of HABIT-CHANGE with external experts. In the investigation areas Climate Adapted Management Plans are currently developed and tested. The implementation of Climate Adapted Management Plans is accompanied by intensive discussions with stakeholders and land-users, like farmers, foresters, fishers or tourist enterprises. Exhibitions have been prepared to illustrate the project results for individual investigation areas. They are presented in visitor centers and other locations like the Botanical Garden of Bucharest. The experience gained in the project was used to prepare policy recommendations for the EU level. The results are summarized in a policy brief. It was presented in Brussels on the 5. March 2013. Further activities have started to spread the project results. Finalizing the Climate Adapted Management Plans and presenting project results will be relevant milestones for the following month. This way, HABIT-CHANGE is using the best available scientific knowledge on climate change and its impacts to support conservation managers in Central Europe. HABIT-CHANGE provides information on the change of habitats and helps to change the habits of management in protected areas. Further information on the project and current activities can be found at

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  • 78.2%   2 736 814,00
  • 2007 - 2013 Central Europe
  • Project on KEEP Platform
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