Rigid nature policy and fixation in landscape ecological processes

A. Barendregt, H. Siepel

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Nature conservation in Europe may suffer from a drawback as a result of its sophisticated legislation and regulation of nature parts in the landscape, in between all other functions. As a consequence of land use surrounding the last bits and pieces of nature, these appear to become rather locked. When a goal is set as for instance ‘heathland’, this piece of land has to be managed as a heathland, despite succession due to ongoing weathering of minerals, leaching of these to deeper layers and consequently poorer vegetation quality for herbivores, resulting in their decline. We investigated this dilemma by having interviews with policy makers and nature managers from different areas, combined with a literature review on the qualities during time and the ecological processes involved. This fixation of processes is quite general: it occurs in reed lands (where reed is gradually poisoning its own substrate), in coastal and inland sand dunes (succession of vegetation and building up of a soil profile), along rivers (due to its fixed channel), in fens (due to its fixed water table) and even on the longer run in forests. As a consequence, species that need dynamic landscape processes disappear from the nature areas that we preserve with great care. Finally, we formulate some suggestions to mitigate the foreseen effects and the call to open up the landscape physically in a wider perspective. We need low-frequent dynamics to counter these landscape processes, however, nowadays habitats are locked up in their nature reserves by having managers to maintain and report on the precise proportion of each habitat and the population sizes of the selected species. Nature conservation has to be replaced by nature management, given the space to anticipate and rejuvenate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandscape and Landscapeecology - Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium on Landscape Ecology at Nitra - Slovakia
EditorsLubos Halada
Place of PublicationNitra, Slowakia
PublisherInstitute of Landscape Ecology, Slovak Academy of Science
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-80-89325-28-3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • : Natura 2000, drift sands, heathlands, river forelands, coastal sand dunes, fens, reed marshes, low frequent dynamics, succession


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