Insufficient wolf protection in Natura 2000 sites

2017-09-06 | Insufficient wolf protection in Natura 2000 sites

If protected areas are to remain relevant in our dynamic world they must be adapted to changes in species ranges. In the EU one of the most notable such changes is the recent recovery of large carnivores, which are protected by Natura 2000 at the national and population levels. However, the Natura 2000 network was designed prior to their recent recovery, which raises the question whether the network is sufficient to protect the contemporary ranges of large carnivores. To investigate this question experts from Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology Faculty of Biology University of Warsaw (Tom Diserens, Maciej Szewczyk and Dr. Robert Mysłajek), Mammal Research Institute Polish ACademy of Sciences (Dr. Tomasz Borowik) and the Association for Nature "Wolf" (Dr. Sabina Nowak and Dr. Natalia Niedźwiecka) evaluated Natura 2000 coverage of the three wolf populations in Poland. Results of their analysis just appeared in PLoS ONE. Wolf tracking data showed that wolves have recolonised almost all suitable habitat in Poland (as determined by a recent habitat suitability model), so we calculated the overlap between the Natura 2000 network and all wolf habitat in Poland. On the basis of published Natura 2000 criteria, we used 20% as the minimum required coverage. At the national level, wolves are sufficiently protected (22% coverage), but at the population level, the Baltic and Carpathian populations are far better protected (28 and 47%, respectively) than the endangered Central European Lowland population (12%). As Natura 2000 insufficiently protects the most endangered wolf population in Poland, we recommend expansion of Natura 2000 to protect at least an additional 8% of wolf habitat in western Poland, and discuss which specific forests are most in need of additional coverage. Implementation of these actions will have positive conservation implications and help Poland to fulfil its Habitats Directive obligations. As it is likely that similar gaps in Natura 2000 are arising in other EU member states experiencing large carnivore recoveries, particularly in Central Europe, we make the case for a flexible approach to Natura 2000 and suggest that such coverage evaluations may be beneficial elsewhere.

Wolves recolonizng western Poland follow habitat suitability model

2017-08-16 | Wolves recolonizng western Poland follow habitat suitability model

Although habitat suitability models (HSM) have been widely proposed as conservation and management tools, especially for rare and endangered taxa, their predictive power for recovering populations has rarely been tested. In the new study by Dr. Sabina Nowak from the Association for Nature "Wolf" and her team, compared the predictions of the HSM for wolves in western Poland with the present distribution of the species after 15 years of spontaneous recolonization. Wolves were recorded in 259 cells (19.8% of the study area). The pairs and packs settled in areas predicted by the HSM to have good and very good habitat, in cells characterized by high forest cover and low densities of roads. Wolf groups that reproduced were found in the best-quality habitats characterized by denser forest cover and markedly lower shares of anthropogenic structures. Dispersing individuals were mostly recorded in unsuitable and suboptimal habitats, and they avoided both the poorest and the best habitats. In the initial phase of wolf recovery, cells selected by wolves for settling down and those used by dispersing wolves did not differ in their habitat parameters. However, in the later phase, as WPL became more saturated with wolf packs, dispersing individuals were recorded in less suitable habitats. The HSM for Polish wolves predicted with high accuracy the areas later occupied by wolf groups in the western part of the country. A similar approach may also be useful to predict the future distribution of wolves in the lowlands of central and western Europe where environmental conditions are comparable and recolonizing wolves originate from the same source population.

Livestock protection in western Carpathians

2017-07-20 | Livestock protection in western Carpathians

Next set of fladry (an ancient method of hunting wolves now applied as livestock protection measure) was delivered to sheep breeder in western Carpathian Mountains. Fladry were produced within a wolf protection project supported by the EuroNature.

European Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice

2017-07-13 | European Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice

Today press release of the European Commission stated that Commission has decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for increased logging in the Białowieża Forest, which is a protected Natura 2000 site.As logging operations have started on a significant scale, the Commission is also requesting the Court for interim measures compelling Poland to suspend the works immediately. On 25 March 2016, the Polish authorities adopted a decision allowing for a three-fold increase in logging operations in the Białowieża Forest district, as well as for logging in areas so far excluded from any intervention. These measures - which include the removal of century old trees - pose a major threat to the integrity of this Natura 2000 site. The Natura 2000 site protects species and habitats that are dependent on old-growth forests, including the availability of dead wood. For some of these species, the Białowieża Forest is the most important or the last remaining site in Poland. The available evidence shows that these measures are not compatible with the conservation objectives of the site and exceed those necessary for ensuring the sustainable use of the forest. In addition, the decision was preceded by an inappropriate assessment of the impacts of the measures on the Natura 2000 site. In April 2017, the Commission issued a reasoned opinion urging Poland to refrain from large scale logging and giving Poland one month to comply. In spite of this, Poland has begun to implement its plan.

Ecological education with music

2017-07-09 | Ecological education with music

Dr. Robert Mysłajek in company with The New Warsaw Trio led educational event focused on voices of Nature. Lecture was attended by ca. 500 people, mostly children and their parents. Event, held in the Main Library of the Warsaw University, was organized by the Open University of the University of Warsaw.

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