Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1375–1388

A rapid and cost-effective tool for managing habitats of the European Natura 2000 network: a case study in the Italian Alps

  • Rossi Graziano
  • Parolo Gilberto
  • Ferrarini Alessandro
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-008-9459-4

Cite this article as:
Graziano, R., Gilberto, P. & Alessandro, F. Biodivers Conserv (2009) 18: 1375. doi:10.1007/s10531-008-9459-4


“Habitats” Directive 92/43/EEC is the pivotal European law for building a continental network of sites of community importance (SCIs) for nature conservation. Article 6 of such directive underlines the importance of biodiversity conservation through the realization of proper management plans. As a result, such plans are increasingly common. A management plan based on intensive field studies and monitoring activities requires time and financial resources, which are generally limited. The aim of this paper is to offer a rapid, cost-effective and scientifically based decision tool aimed to achieve GIS-based conservation strategies for habitats of EU interest within SCIs and, in general, within protected areas. As a case study, we considered species-rich Nardus grasslands (threatened by natural reconversion and intensive cattle grazing), and transition mires (threatened by pasturing and human disturbance) in a SCI in the Alps. Through a multi-criteria evaluation, we selected indicators and weights based upon our knowledge of the study area. As a result, we were able to: (a) quantify the level of existing threats, (b) suggest urgent conservation strategies, and (c) suggest future monitoring activities. Since the study area is representative of many protected areas in the Alps and the conservation topics under evaluation are frequent threats impacting habitats of EU interest, our decision model might be transferable to further areas given proper adaptation of weights to the intensity and the frequency of current threats.


Biodiversity conservation“Habitats” Directive 92/43/EECMulti-criteria analysisNardus grasslandsSite of community importanceTransition miresWeighted linear combination



Site of community importance


European Union


European Union habitat 6230—species-rich Nardus grasslands on siliceous substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)


European Union habitat 7140—transition mires and quaking bogs

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rossi Graziano
    • 1
  • Parolo Gilberto
    • 1
  • Ferrarini Alessandro
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Ecologia del TerritorioUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly