New method and criteria for national assessments of threatened habitat types

Abstract

Consistent information on threatened habitat types is needed for land use planning and for prioritizing conservation, management, and restoration actions. However, detailed background data for assessing extinction risks of habitat types exists only in few countries. We present a new, flexible procedure for assigning habitat types into Red List Categories similar to those used for species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The procedure allows variation in the character or scale of assessment units and it is applicable even with incomplete data. The assessment protocol consists of two primary criteria: the change in the quantity and the change in the quality of the habitat type. The criteria are analyzed by expert groups with a transparent and repeatable stepwise procedure. The quantitative and qualitative changes in habitat types over the last 50 years serve as a starting point for the assessment, and the status is adjusted by assessing sub-criteria that address earlier changes, predicted future change, and the overall commonness or rarity of the habitat type. We also report the main results of the first assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland, and illustrate the application of the criteria by two case studies.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to all those who participated in the assessment of threatened habitat types in Finland. We also thank K. Aapala, J. Pykälä and an anonymous referee for their constructive comments on the manuscript. The study was supported by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and it was part of the MOSSE research program.

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Correspondence to Tytti Kontula.

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Kontula, T., Raunio, A. New method and criteria for national assessments of threatened habitat types. Biodivers Conserv 18, 3861 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-009-9684-5

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Keywords

  • Conservation status
  • Ecological communities
  • Extinction risk
  • Red List
  • Threat categories
  • Threatened biotopes
  • Threatened habitats