, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1551-1576
Date: 06 Apr 2014

Natura 2000 habitats in Tuscany (central Italy): synthesis of main conservation features based on a comprehensive database

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We analyse and report a synthesis of a long-term project leading to the creation of a database of habitats of conservation interest in Tuscany (Italy). All available floristic and vegetation literature from 1960 to date and relating to the Tuscan territory, and all terrestrial and inland water (non-marine) Habitats of European Community Interest as listed in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive present in Tuscany have been identified and taken into account. A total of 2,691 sites were attributed to 82 different conservation interest habitat types and were geo-localised and uploaded to the database. For each habitat site, threat and pressure factors are indicated and a quick expert-based assessment made on the basis of three parameters: rarity, vulnerability and a quality estimate. For the analysis, all database information was referred to a vectorial 10 × 10 km grid. The territorial distribution of habitats is discussed with respect to: the level of information available, the numbers of reports and the habitat-type concentration. The major threats and pressures affecting these Tuscan habitats are highlighted and discussed. Vegetation dynamics proved to be the most important natural/seminatural threat. Another important threat is invasion by/competition with other organisms, mainly invasive alien species. Among anthropic threats, the management of riparian and aquatic vegetation together with water management all strongly affect many habitat types with links to wetlands. Infrastructures, particularly those connected with tourism and recreation, are an important threat factor especially in coastal areas. Some positive effects of certain anthropic pressures are also illustrated. Lastly, some actions to improve habitat knowledge, evaluation and conservation are suggested.

Communicated by Daniel Sanchez Mata.