Main Gaps in Ecological Corridors Identification, Management, and Preservation in Danube-Carpathian Region
The Danube-Carpathian region represents one of the most preserved natural habitats for wildlife species in Europe. It is the last European great wilderness area, a stronghold for large carnivores, and home to the large remaining reserves of old-growth forests. Achieving ecological connectivity of the area is an inevitable part of its protection. Therefore, ecological corridors, which play a wide range of roles such as protecting endangered species and the biodiversity of territory, and securing its eco-connectivity while facilitating various ecosystem services, need to be thoroughly identified, managed and protected. That can contribute to avoiding landscape fragmentation and preserving the environment, including the endangered animal species. However, a comprehensive and coordinated ecological corridor identification, management, and preservation system within this region are missing, and the concerned countries meet with diverse problems when dealing with the issue. That creates one of the key problems in protecting these valuable natural areas. In order to identify the main gaps in the planning processes and tools related to the ecological corridors, broad analytical work has been undertaken supported by the questionnaire, carried out in the concerned 5 countries located in the Danube-Carpathian region. The paper's objective is to identify the gaps in the identification, management, and preservation of ecological corridors' involvement of the public in the processes such as integration of ecological networks into spatial planning in legal processes. The outcome of the study thus contributes to establishing an integrated approach for strengthening the capacity for identifying, managing, and protecting ecological corridors and helps to overcome the conflict between infrastructure development and wildlife conservation. The paper's novelty lies in the scope and breadth of the analysis, covering 5 Carpathian countries and stakeholders from various sectors under the umbrella of EU funded Interreg DTP Project.
Keywords: ecological corridors, Danube-Carpathian region, ecological connectivity, management.
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