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Methodology for the elaboration of Natura 2000 sites designation acts in the Walloon Region (Belgium): calcareous grasslands in the Lesse-and-Lomme area

  • bottin, gaëtan
  • etienne, marie
  • verté, patrick
  • mahy, grégory
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2005
Liège Université - BASE
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In the Walloon Region (Belgium), 239 sites have been selected to be included in the Natura 2000 network. The next step is to write designation acts in order to legally protect these 221,000 ha. In this pilot study, a designation act was elaborated for a Natura 2000 site of 2,569 ha and located in the Lesse-and-Lomme area within the Calestienne region. Although the site includes 40 ha of calcareous grasslands, characterised by an exceptional flora and fauna, this habitat is very threatened by abandonment and fragmentation.The methodology used to elaborate the designation act is presented with respect to calcareous grassland. Firstly, in spring and summer 2003, an accurate map of natural habitats was produced, with every single patch of calcareous grassland being mapped. Information was also collected in order to evaluate conservation status. Based on this information, conservation status was then assessed with respect to three different criteria: (1) integrity of the cortege species, (2) habitat structure and (3) degradations. Thirdly, the site was divided into objective zones according to the different habitats and species of Community interest found in the site. Hence, an objective zone was delineated for calcareous grasslands. This objective zone was then divided in several management units. Finally, at these different spatial levels (site, objective zone, management unit), management measures were suggested. As a result, in the draft designation act, the target is to maintain or restore 230 ha of calcareous grassland, instead of the existing 40 ha. This ambitious target requires large-scale restoration and an efficient grazing scheme. These will need important resources for their successful implementation.

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