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Protection gaps and restoration opportunities for primary forests in Europe

Sabatini, Francesco M. and Keeton, William S. and Lindner, Marcus and Svoboda, Miroslav and Verkerk, Pieter J. and Bauhus, Juergen and Bruelheide, Helge and Burrascano, Sabina and Debaive, Nicolas and Duarte, Ines and Garbarino, Matteo and Grigoriadis, Nikolaos and Lombardi, Fabio and Mikolas, Martin and Meyer, Peter and Motta, Renzo and Mozgeris, Gintautas and Nunes, Leonia and Ódor, Péter and Panayotov, Momchil and Ruete, Alejandro and Simovski, Bojan and Stillhard, Jonas and Svensson, Johan and Szwagrzyk, Jerzy and Tikkanen, Olli-Pekka and Vandekerkhove, Kris and Volosyanchuk, Roman and Vrska, Tomas and Zlatanov, Tzvetan and Kuemmerle, Tobias (2020). Protection gaps and restoration opportunities for primary forests in Europe. Diversity and Distributions. 26 , 1646-1662
[Research article]

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Abstract

Aims Primary forests are critical for forest biodiversity and provide key ecosystem services. In Europe, these forests are particularly scarce and it is unclear whether they are sufficiently protected. Here we aim to: (a) understand whether extant primary forests are representative of the range of naturally occurring forest types, (b) identify forest types which host enough primary forest under strict protection to meet conservation targets and (c) highlight areas where restoration is needed and feasible. Location Europe. Methods We combined a unique geodatabase of primary forests with maps of forest cover, potential natural vegetation, biogeographic regions and protected areas to quantify the proportion of extant primary forest across Europe's forest types and to identify gaps in protection. Using spatial predictions of primary forest locations to account for underreporting of primary forests, we then highlighted areas where restoration could complement protection. Results We found a substantial bias in primary forest distribution across forest types. Of the 54 forest types we assessed, six had no primary forest at all, and in two-thirds of forest types, less than 1% of forest was primary. Even if generally protected, only ten forest types had more than half of their primary forests strictly protected. Protecting all documented primary forests requires expanding the protected area networks by 1,132 km(2)(19,194 km(2)when including also predicted primary forests). Encouragingly, large areas of non-primary forest existed inside protected areas for most types, thus presenting restoration opportunities. Main conclusion Europe's primary forests are in a perilous state, as also acknowledged by EU's "Biodiversity Strategy for 2030." Yet, there are considerable opportunities for ensuring better protection and restoring primary forest structure, composition and functioning, at least partially. We advocate integrated policy reforms that explicitly account for the irreplaceable nature of primary forests and ramp up protection and restoration efforts alike.

Authors/Creators:Sabatini, Francesco M. and Keeton, William S. and Lindner, Marcus and Svoboda, Miroslav and Verkerk, Pieter J. and Bauhus, Juergen and Bruelheide, Helge and Burrascano, Sabina and Debaive, Nicolas and Duarte, Ines and Garbarino, Matteo and Grigoriadis, Nikolaos and Lombardi, Fabio and Mikolas, Martin and Meyer, Peter and Motta, Renzo and Mozgeris, Gintautas and Nunes, Leonia and Ódor, Péter and Panayotov, Momchil and Ruete, Alejandro and Simovski, Bojan and Stillhard, Jonas and Svensson, Johan and Szwagrzyk, Jerzy and Tikkanen, Olli-Pekka and Vandekerkhove, Kris and Volosyanchuk, Roman and Vrska, Tomas and Zlatanov, Tzvetan and Kuemmerle, Tobias
Title:Protection gaps and restoration opportunities for primary forests in Europe
Series Name/Journal:Diversity and Distributions
Year of publishing :2020
Volume:26
Page range:1646-1662
Number of Pages:17
Publisher:WILEY
ISSN:1366-9516
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Forest Science
Keywords:biodiversity conservation, conservation priorities, gap analysis, old-growth forest, primary forest, protected areas, protection gap, restoration opportunities, strict protection, virgin forest
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-108101
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-108101
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1111/ddi.13158
Web of Science (WoS)000569269600001
ID Code:24349
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:02 Jun 2021 09:04
Metadata Last Modified:02 Jun 2021 09:11

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