Ecosystem and Species Management

Managing species and their ecosystems

Species and ecosystems form the cornerstone of most biodiversity policies and legislation and they are the visible component of the concept ‘biodiversity’. Europe has a large diversity in species and ecosystems; however, many of them are at risk.

The key pressures on most of Europe’s ecosystems and species relate to land-use change (e.g. from urbanization, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry) and its associated habitat destruction, ongoing environmental pollution, climate change, and invasive alien species. However, not all species are in a bad situation. In certain cases conservation and restoration efforts have worked very well.

This programme focuses on natural processes and the role that species play at the landscape scale. The larger the areas are, the more chances there are for natural processes to provide ecosystem services. In such processes the ecological role of the large herbivores and other species is obvious. The more use that can be made of natural processes (both by animals and through abiotic processes, such as wind, water and fire), the more sustainable the maintenance will be, especially from a financial point of view, and the more resilient ecosystems will be. 

In view of the actual situation in the different countries, and the requirements of Natura 2000 (and the Emerald Network, outside the EU), managing the remaining semi-natural areas and their habitats will be increasingly important, especially if we are serious about keeping them in (or bringing them back to) a healthy condition. Appropriate nature conservation and restoration practices can contribute much to the overall conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe. If conflicts between species and people occur, well-designed communication and compensation can raise the degree of acceptance.

Large Herbivore Network

On 1 July 2010 the Large Herbivore Foundation (LHF) joined the Biodiversity & Nature Unit of the ECNC Group. LHF’s legacy will be carried forward in the form of the Large Herbivore Network (LHNet). This Network bundles specific expertise on all large herbivores in Eurasia and their relationship with ecosystems. The Large Herbivore Network envisages a Eurasian continent where people enjoy the benefits of ecosystems and landscapes that are inhabited by viable populations of all large herbivores in the region, living in the wild.

This ECNC programme includes aspects ranging from integrating biodiversity conservation practices into multifunctional land use to processes supporting wilderness in Europe. Particular attention is being given to the further development of LHNet.

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