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95% of Iberian vertebrate hotspots are not protected
19 September 2011
A study carried out by Spanish and Italian biologists concluded that 95% of areas with high concentrations of vertebrates in the Iberian Peninsula are not in protected areas. It also proposes changing the current method for demarcating these areas, given that it only considers very few species, leaving out large groups of animals.
Biodiversity hotspots for vertebrates in the Iberian Peninsula take up 3.7% of land and are mostly unprotected. Only 5% of these hotspots are within protected areas.
A study by the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Biological Evolution from the University of Valencia, in collaboration with the University of Sapienza, Rome, has been published in the latest issue of Acta Oecologica. It shows why the criteria used to create protective areas are ineffective in the Iberian Peninsula.
The biologist Pascual López-López, researcher for the study, recognised: "the method for designing networks of protected areas is based on demarcating a few areas as 'biodiversity hotspots'. This doesn't make any sense in the Mediterranean basin.”
The protected areas network was designed with criteria that only considered a few groups of animals, mainly certain bird and mammal species, “for which coverage is good, while for others it is not so,” stressed López-López.
Currently, protected areas do not have a vast concentration of animal species, but hotspots have great diversity of species, which are outside protected areas.
The Spanish researcher believes that it is not possible “to protect the diversity of species creating a network as if it were a collection of samples, without considering that the changes provoked by human activity will make this change completely.”
Pascual López-López warns that “if we continue like this, in addition to not having a good network of protected areas, what will happen is that the current network will be inefficient at preserving biodiversity.”