14 2 5 3 15 Alpine Nature 2030 Creating ecological connectivity for generations to come 1 1 2 Ground level implementation efforts The principal implementation instrument that coun tries have employed to protect biodiversity is the estab lishment of protected areas Speci cally linked to the implementation of the Habitats Directive is the estab lishment of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas EC 2016 For non EU countries there is an equivalent the Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest CE 2014 EU CE 2015 It was launched by the Council of Europe as part of its work under the Bern Convention in 1989 Overall there are now 209 429 of cially designated protected areas in this network globally corresponding to an area larger than Africa or 14 percent of the earth s land surface 15 4 percent without Antarctica and 3 41 percent of the marine area Deguignet et al 2014 The total protected area network has grown more than two and a half fold in area since the year of the Earth Summit 1992 but there are some signi cant regional differences While in terms of numbers of sites 65 per cent are located in Europe these only cover 12 percent of the total global protected area Europe thus has a large number of relatively small sites often with more than one designation of protection These range from strictly protected to various degrees of lesser protec tion for example National Park Special Protection Area Nature Reserve protected landscape and more IUCN 2015 Only about one percent of Europe s land area corresponds to a wilderness zone as de ned in the IUCN criteria for protected areas In the Alps when de ned strictly as IUCN category Ib only unmodi ed or only slightly modi ed areas wilderness areas cover only 0 06 per cent of their territory De ned a bit more loosely to include category Ia strictly protected with very limited and controlled human impact as well 0 32 per cent of the Alps can be considered protected wilderness areas Looking at numbers rather than land area there are currently 457 category I protected areas of about 6700 protected areas overall IUCN 2016 A global gap analysis in 2004 assessed the effectiveness of protected areas in representing different species in this study only terrestrial vertebrates the best studied species group were considered Rodrigues et al 2004 The study found that there was only a partial corre spondence of the location of protected sites to the dis tribution of several threatened species Well managed protected areas can be effective tools for biodiversity conservation and many are successful despite resource constraints Leverington et al 2010 Nevertheless even the best managed islands of conservation are unable to ensure long term species conservation or ecosystem function as adaptation to climate change requires a network of physically connected natural areas com bined with compatible land use practices to allow spe cies and populations to move between areas as needed Hannah 2011 Hannah 2007 The concepts of ecological networks or ecological connectivity have by now found their way into global regional and national strategies guidelines and other policy documents At a global level most recently the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 to 2020 was adopted at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Biodiversity Convention and it includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets CBD 2015b where Tar get 11 aims to improve global protected area coverage and effectiveness By 2020 at least 17 per cent of ter restrial and inland water and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services are conserved through effectively and equitably managed ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area based conservation measures and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes emphasis added At the European Union level these targets were translated into the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and adopted by the Euro pean Parliament in 2012 EP 2012 In the early 19th century due to hunting the Alpine ibex Capra ibex only survived in the Gran Paradiso area The es tablishment of the Royal Hunting Reserve of the Gran Para diso 1856 and later the Gran Paradiso National Park 1922 contributed to the protection of this species in the Alps

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