Incorporating significant migration areas for wildlife into the spatial plans is crucial for a better protection of large mammals, as well as for reducing the human-wildlife conflicts. This was one of the main premises of the first national meeting dedicated to introducing the draft methodology for identifying ecological corridors in the Carpathians to key stakeholders and experts from the Czech Republic. The workshop was organized by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA CZ) in cooperation with Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening, (VUKOZ) at the end of February, in Vsetín, as part as ConnectGREEN project.
© Linda Zachystalová/NCA CZ
In total 30 representatives of national, regional and local authorities as well as relevant institution working in the conservation area were familiarized with the key chapters of the Methodology – Defining of the Habitat of Large Carnivores.
Václav Hlaváč from NCA CZ introduced the issue of the environment fragmentation in relation with protection of large carnivores. He informed participants about approaches NCA has been using to conserve ecological network in the Czech Republic. He stressed that it is crucial to incorporate significant migration areas into spatial plans. He also presented the concept of „Conservation of biotope of selected specially protected species of large mammals“ in the Czech Republic. It is expected that this methodology will be to large extent adopted to ConnectGREEN project.
Five steps for defining the habitat of large carnivores
Dušan Romportl from Silva Tarouca Research Institute CZ presented the five steps to define the habitat of large carnivores in Carpathians: (I) Collection and preparation of input data, namely occurrence data of target species and various environmental variables, (II) habitat suitability modelling, (III) proposal of core areas and stepping stones, (IV) connectivity modelling and (V) expert discussion and verification of proposed layer.
After that, Martin Strnad from NCA CZ followed up on the previous presentation with the introduction of the chapter on the topic of migration barriers of large carnivores. He stressed that the assessment of barriers is crucial for the specification of corridors defined by habitat suitability modelling and connectivity modelling. He also introduced different types of barriers which will be assessed within ConnectGREEN project and a five-step scale that will be used for field assessment of barriers, which is crucial for verifying barriers in the pilot areas. Then he introduced the pilot area Western Carpathians on the Czech-Slovak borderlands.
The newly introduced methodology and related specific processes of identifying of ecological corridors (migration corridors modelling, corridors verification in terrain) were fruitfully discussed. The result of the workshop was that experts gained new knowledge on how to identify ecological corridors in the Carpathians developed within ConnectGREEN. During the discussion and the whole workshop duration, valuable experiences, knowledge and opinions were exchanged between stakeholders. Those new insights will be surely beneficial to next direction of project for Czech Republic even for all project partners from member countries.