Effectiveness of Natura 2000 network in Romanian Alpine Biogeographical Region: an assessment based on forest landscape connectivity


  • Mihaiță Iulian Niculae University of Bucharest, Centre for Environmental Research and Impact Studies, 1st Nicolae Balcescu Blvd., Sector 1, CP 010041, Bucharest, Romania
  • Sorin Avram University of Craiova, Department of Geography, A. I. Cuza 13, CP 200585, Craiova, Romania & National Institute for Economic Research “Costin C. Kirițescu” of Romanian Academy, Romanian Academy House, Calea 13 Septembrie, no. 13, Sector 5, Bucharest, Romania
  • Gabriel Ovidiu Vânău University of Bucharest, Centre for Environmental Research and Impact Studies, 1st Nicolae Balcescu Blvd., Sector 1, CP 010041, Bucharest, Romania
  • Maria Pătroescu University of Bucharest, Centre for Environmental Research and Impact Studies, 1st Nicolae Balcescu Blvd., Sector 1, CP 010041, Bucharest, Romania




Forest patches, Natura 2000, connectivity, CONEFOR, Alpine Biogeographical Region, Romania


Maintaining and increasing landscape connectivity, especially of forest landscapes, are some of the main concerns regarding biodiversity conservation. The connectivity of protected areas for different species represents an indicator for evaluating the effectiveness of the Natura 2000 network. Our research aims to evaluate the connectivity of forest landscapes in the Romanian Alpine Biogeographical Region (ABR) for various terrestrial species. We analysed the distribution of forest patches and Sites of Community Importance (SCI), as part of Natura 2000 network, in the Romanian ABR. We evaluated the connectivity of forest patches for terrestrial species with different dispersal distances, identifying those patches with significant contribution to maintain the forest landscape connectivity, through the graph theory approach. To quantify the importance of each node, we evaluated the dPCconnector fraction derived from the dPC index. Of the 125 SCIs in the Romanian ABR, 71 protected areas have over 1000 ha, four of them have more than 100,000 ha. The total protected surfaces cover ~35% of the Romanian ABR, and the forest surfaces, protected in SCIs, cover 26% of the total Romanian ABR. Regarding the connectivity scores, we found that the forest surfaces across the ABR are well connected (0.89 or 1 for different dispersal distances) in comparison with the Natura 2000 forest patches. The forest patches are well connected especially for the species with large dispersal distance in both cases (d = 25 km). For the species characterized by a small dispersion distance, the connectivity is lower (0.46) in the case of protected forests. Our results evidence that the connectivity objective of the forest surfaces protected through the Nature 2000 network is not totally achieved. Furthermore new protected areas are needed where the forest are still present for increasing landscape connectivity for species.


Biriș I.A., Veen P., 2005. Inventory and strategy for sustainable management and protection of vigin forests in Romania. Extended English summary. ICAS and KNNV, 61p

Bodin Ö., Saura S., 2010. Ranking individual habitat patches as connectivity providers: integrating network analysis and patch removal experiments. Ecol. Model. 221: 2393–2405. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.06.017

Bowman J., Jaeger J.A.G., Fahrig L., 2002. Dispersal distance of mammals is proportional to home range size. Ecology 83: 2049–2055. DOI: 10.1890/0012-9658(2002)083[2049:DDOMIP]2.0.CO;2

Cantu-Salazar L., Gaston K.J., 2010. Very large protected areas and their contribution to terrestrial biological conservation. BioScience 60(10), 808-818. DOI: 10.1525/bio.2010.60.10.7

Council of European Communities, 1992. Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. Official Journal of the European Communities. No L. 206

EEA, 2002. Europe's biodiversity- biogeographical regions and seas. The Alpine region- mountain of Europe. Web: http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/report_2002_0524_154909. Accessed: 22.09.2016

EEA. 2011. Landscape fragmentation in Europe. Joint EEA-FOEN report No. 2/2011. Publications Office of the European Union, 92 p.

EEA, 2016. Biogeographical regions. Web: http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/biogeographical-regions-europe-3. Accessed: 20.09.2016.

European Commission, 2008. Natura 2000.Protecting Europe's biodiversity. Information Press. Oxford, United Kingdom

EUSTAFOR, 2013. NATURA 2000 Management in European State Forests. European State Forest Association, Brussels, 46 p.

Evans D., 2012. Building the European Union's Natura 2000 network. Nature Conservation 1: 11–26. DOI: 10.3897/natureconservation.1.1808

Ferrari J., Lookingbill T., Neel M., 2007. Two measures of landscape-graph connectivity: assessment across gradients in area and configuration. Landscape Ecology 22:1315–1323. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-007-9121-7

Fontaine B., Bouchet P., Van Achterberg K., Alonso- Zarazaga M.A., Araujo R., Asche M., Aspöck U., Audiso P., Aukema B., Bailly N., Balsamo M., Bank R.A., Barnard P., Belfiore C., Bogdanowicz W., Bongers T., Boxshall G., Burckhardt D., Camicas J.-L., Chylarecki P., Crucitti P., Deharveng L., Dubois A., Enghoff H., Faubel A., Fochetti R., Gargominy O., Gibson D., Gibson R., López M.S.G., Goujet D., Harvey M.S., Heller K.-G., Van Helsdingen P., Hoch H., De Jong H., De Jong Y., Karsholt O., Los W., Lundqvist L., Magowski W., Manconi R., Martens J., Massard J.A., Massard-Geimer G., Mcinnes S.J., Mendes L.F., Mey E., Michelsen V., Minelli A., Nielsen C., Nafría J.M.N., Van Nieukerken E.J., Noyes J., Pape T., Pohl H., De Prins W., Ramos M., Ricci C., Roselaar C., Rota E., Schmidt-Rhaesa A., Segers H., Strassen R.Z., Szeptycki A., Thibaud J.-M., Thomas A., Timm T., Van Tol J., Vervoort W., Willmann R., 2007. The European Union's 2010 target: putting rare species in focus. Biological Conservation 139: 167- 185

Gurrutxaga M., Rubio L., Saura S., 2011. Key connectors in protected forest area networks and the impact of highways: A transnational case study from the Cantabrian Range to the Western Alps (SW Europe). Landscape and Urban Planning 101: 310-320. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.02.036

Hartel T., Schweiger O., Öllerer K., Cogalniceanu D., Arntzen J.W., 2010. Amphibian distribution in a traditionally managed rural landscape of EasternEurope: probing the effect of landscape composition. Biological Conservation 143: 1118–1124. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.02.006

Henein K., Wegner J., Merriam G., 1998. Population effects of landscape model manipulation on two behaviourally different woodland small mammals. Oikos 81: 168-186. DOI: 10.2307/3546479

Hunter M.L., Schmiegelow F.A., 2010. Wildlife, forests and forestry: principles of managing forests for biological diversity (2nd Edition). Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 288 p.

Ioja C.I., Patroescu M., Rozylowicz L., Popescu V.D., Verghelet M., Zotta M.I., Felciuc M., 2010. The efficacy of Romania's protected areas network in conserving biodiversity. Biological Conservation. 143: 2468-2476. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.06.013

Iorgu O., Turtica M., 2008. Certificarea FSC. Instrument si consecinta a managementului forestier responsabil. WWW Danube-Carphatian Programme, Brasov, 68 p.

Knorn J., Kuemmerle T., Radeloff V.C., Szabo A., Mindrescu M., Keeton W.S., Abrudan I., Griffiths P., Gancz V., Hostert P., 2012. Forest restitution and protected area effectiveness in post-socialist Romania. Biological Conservation 146: 204-212. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.12.020

Leadley P.W., Krug C.B., Alkemade R., Pereira H.M., Sumaila U.R., Walpole M., Marques A., Newbold T., Teh L.S.L, van Kolck J., Bellard C., Januchowski-Hartley S.R., Mumby P.J. 2014. Progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets: An Assessment of Biodiversity Trends, Policy Scenarios and Key Actions. Technical Series 78. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, Canada. 502 p.

Linnell J.D.C., Promberger C., Boitani L., Swenson J.E., Breitenmoser U., Andersen A., 2005. The linkage between conservation strategies for large carnivores and biodiversity: the view from the ''half-full''forests of Europe. In: Ray J.C., Redford K.H., Steneck R., berger J.,(ed.), Large carnivores and the conservation of biodiversity. Island Press, Washington: pp. 381-399.

Lindenmayer D.B., Franklin J.F., 2002. Conserving forest biodiversity: a comprehensive multiscaled approach. Island Press, Washington, 352 p.

Lindenmayer D.B., Fischer J., 2006. Habitat fragmentation and landscape change: an ecological and conservation synthesis. Island Press, Washington, 352 p.

Margules C.R., Pressey R.L., 2000. Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405: 243–253.

DOI: 10.1038/35012251

McAlpine C.A., Thodes J.R., Callaghan J.G., Bowen M.E., Lunney D., Mitchell D.L., Pullar D.V., Possingham H.P., 2006. The importance of forest area and configuration relative to local habitat factors for conserving forest mammals: A case study of koalas in Queensland, Australia. Biological Conservation 132: 153-165.DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.03.021

Merce O., 2012. Natura 2000 and the forests in Romania– management principles, problems and threats. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology 16: 139-144.

Ministerul Mediului, Apelor si Padurilor., 2015. Date GIS. Limitele in format GIS ale siturilor Natura 2000. Web: http://www.mmediu.ro/articol/date-gis/434. Accessed: 20.09.2016.

Minor E.S., Lookingbill T.R., 2010. A multiscale network analysis of protected-area connectivity for mammals in the United States. Conservation Biology 24(6):1549-1558 DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01558.x

Munteanu D., Papadopol A., Weber P., 2002. Atlasul pasarilor clocitoare din Romania. Societatea Ornitologica Romana, Cluj-Napoca, 152 p.

Munteanu C., Kuemmerle T., Boltiziar M., Butsic V., Gimmi U., Halada L., Kaim D., Király G., Konkoly- Gyuró É., Kozak J., Lieskovský J., Mojses M., Müller D., Ostafin K., Ostapowicz K., Shandra O., Štych P., Walker S., Radeloff V.C., 2014. Forest and agricultural land change in the Carpathian region- A meta- analysis of long- term patterns and drivers of change. Land Use Policy 38: 685- 697. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2014.01.012

Niculae M.I., Nita M.R., Vanau G.O., Patroescu M., 2016. Evaluating the functional connectivity of Natura 2000 forest patch for mammals in Romania. Procedia Environmental Science 32: 28-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.proenv.2016.03.009

Pascual-Hortal L., Saura S., 2006. Comparison and development of new graph-based landscape connectivity indices: towards the priorization of habitat patches and corridors for conservation. Landscape Ecology 21: 959-967. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-006-0013-z

Pascual-Hortal L., Saura S., 2008. Integrating landscape connectivity in broad-scale forest planning through a new graph-based habitat availability methodology: application to capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) in Catalonia (NE Spain). European Journal of Forest Research 127: 23-31. DOI: 10.1007/s10342-006-0165-z

Patru- Stupariu I., Stupariu M.S., Tudor C.A., Gradinaru S.R., Gavrilidis A., Kienas F., Hersperger A.M., 2015. Landscape fragmentation in Romania's Southern Carpathians: Testing a European assessment with local data. Landscape and Urban Planning 143: 1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.06.002

Popescu V.D., Rozylowicz L., Niculae I.M., Cucu A.L., Hartel T., 2014. Species, Habitats, Society: An Evaluation of Research Supporting EU's Natura 2000 Network. PLoS ONE 9(11):e113648. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113648

Pullin A.S., Baldi A., Can O.E., Dieterich M., Kati V., Livoreil B., Lovei G., Mihok B., Nevin O., Selva N., Sousa-Pinto I., 2009. Conservation focus on Europe: major conservation policy issues that need to be informed by conservation science. Conservation Biology 23: 818–824. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01283.x

Rey V., Groza O., Ianos I., Patroescu M., 2007. Atlas de la Roumanie. Reclus, Montpelier, Paris, 208p

Ricotta C., Stanisci A., Avena G.C., Blasi C., 2000. Quantifying the network connectivity of landscape mosaics: a graph- theoretical approach. Community Ecology.1(1): 89-94. DOI: 10.1556/ComEc.1.2000.1.12

Rochelle J.A., Lehmann L.A., Wisniewski J.B., 1999. Forest Fragmentation: Wildlife and Management Implications. Brill: Leiden, The Netherlands, 322 p.

Rozylowicz L., Popescu V.D., Patroescu M., Chisamera G., 2011. The potential of large carnivores as conservation surrogates in the Romanian Carpathians. Biodiversity and Conservation 20: 561- 579. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-010-9967-x

Rubio L., Rodriguez-Freire M., Mateo- Sanchez M.C., Estreguil G., Saura S., 2012. Sustaining forest landscape connectivity under different land cover change scenarios. Forest Systems 21(2): 223-235.

DOI: 10.5424/fs/2012212-02568

Santini L., Saura S., Rondinini C., 2016. Connectivity of the global network ofprotected areas. Diversity and Distribution 22: 199-211. DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12390

Saura S., Pascual-Hortal L., 2007. Conefor Sensinode 2.2 User's Manual: Software for quantifying the importance of habitat patches for maintaining landscape connectivity through graphs and habitat availability indices. University of Lleida: Spain, 57p

Saura S., Torné J., 2009. Conefor Sensinode 2.2: a software package for quantifying the importance of habitat patches for landscape connectivity. Environmental Moddeling & Software 24: 135-139. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2008.05.005

Saura S., Rubio L., 2010. A common currency for the different ways in which patches and links can contribute to habitat availability and connectivity in the landscape. Ecography 33:523-537. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2009.05760.x

Saura S., Estreguil C., Mouton C., Rodriguez- Freire M., 2011. Network analysis to assess landscape connectivity trends: Application to European forests (1990–2000). Ecological Indicators 11: 407-416

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2010.06.011

Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2014. Global Biodiversity Outlook 4. A mid- term assessment of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011- 2020. Montréal. Canada, 156 p.

Sikor T., Stahl J., Dorondel S., 2009. Negotiating post-socialist property and state: Struggles over forests in Albania and Romania. Development and Change 40:171–193. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2009.01510.x

Soran V., Biro J., Moldovan O., Ardelean A., 2000. Conservation of biodiversity in Romania. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1187–1198. DOI: 10.1023/A:1008905020807

Strîmbu B.M., Hickey G.M., Strîmbu V.G., 2005. Forest conditions and management under rapid legislation change in Romania. Forestry Chronicle 81: 350–358. DOI: 10.5558/tfc81350-3

Sutherland G.D., Harestad A.S., Price K., Lertzman K.P., 2000. Scaling of natal dispersal distances in terrestrial birds and mammals. Conservation Ecology 4(1): 16.

Tischendorf L., Fahrig L., 2000. How should we measure landscape connectivity? Landscape Ecology 15: 633–641. DOI: 10.1023/A:1008177324187

Toader T., Dumitru I., 2005. Romanian forests. National Parks and Natural Parks, Romsilva, Bucharest.

Urban D., Minor E., Treml E., Schick R., 2009. Graph models of habitat mosaics. Ecology Letters 12: 260–273. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01271.x

Urban D., Keitt T., 2001. Landscape connectivity: a graph theoretic perspective. Ecology. 82: 1205–1218. DOI: 10.1890/0012-9658(2001)082[1205:LCAGTP]2.0.CO;2

Vanonckelen S., van Rompaey A., 2015. Spatiotemporal Analysis of the Controlling Factors of Forest Cover Change in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains. Mountain Research and Development, 35(4): 338-350. DOI: 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-15-00014

Veen P., Fanta J., Raev I., Biris I.A., de Smidt J., Maes B., 2010. Virgin forests in Romania and Bulgaria: results of two national inventory projects and their implications for protection. Biodiversity and Conservation 19:1805–1819. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-010-9804-2






Forum Carpathicum 2016