Protection of key ecosystem services by adaptive management of Climate Change endangered Mediterranean socioecosystems
Climate change constitutes the most important challenge that our society is currently facing. Nowadays, there is a general consensus on the magnitude of the changes in our planet due to the impact caused by human activities. The services that can be provided by natural ecosystems are currently being negatively affected by Climate Change and, on the basis of current data, this affection is expected to increase in the future. Life Adaptamed aims to mitigate the negative effect of Climate Change on key ecosystem services provided by three representative Mediterranean Natural Protected Areas (Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, Doñana National and Natural Park and Sierra Nevada and Natural Park) to local inhabitants and their socioeconomic sector. To achieve this objective Life Adaptamed’s central actions will follow an adaptive management framework tested in a pilot scale, aimed to improve resilience of the targeted socioecosystems. Communication and dissemination actions will ensure that the project results are effectively spread and fit the objectives established for the transferability of the project. A temporal and spatial multiscale indicator system will be implemented through monitoring the impact of the project actions. Life Adaptamed (LIFE14 CCA/ES/000612) is funded by the European Commission through the Life Program. The project is guided by the Regional Government of Andalusia and several scientific, dissemination and conservationist institutions are also involved. It is considered as basis for the implementation of the Andalusian Global Change Observatories Network, and constitutes a demonstrative initiative to incorporate the ecosystem functioning and services dimension into the adaptive management.
The project focuses on developing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and disseminating adaptative management measures, with an ecosystemic approach, addressed to those socio-ecosystems identified as key for the provision of, among others, soil retention, polinization, pastures (net primary production), temperature regulation, water provision, prevention of forest fires and of desertification. These socio-ecosystems and the services they provide are currently being negatively affected by Climate Change (from now CC) and, on the basis of current data, this affection is expected to increase significantly in the future. For this reason, the project actions aim to reduce the negative impact of CC in the NPAs area of influence and their socioeconomic fabric by focusing on implementing specific adaptive measures addressed to those key socio-ecosystems with a major role in the provision of the aforementioned ecosystem services. As a result of this, an increase in the resilience of the concerned socio-ecosystems is expected, in such a way that their future provision of services will also be improved, if compared to the scenario of no intervention.
As other main project goal, the foreseen products, tools and gained experience on the protection of ecosystem services affected by Climate Change will be maximized on a demonstration level across Europe and the Mediterranean basin. The objective is to implement and test actions and tools in different Mediterranean representative ecosystems especially sensitive to Climate Change (wetlands, mountain areas and subdesertic areas) in order to provide data, experience and tools to other decision makers, land managers and stakeholders to face these threats. As additional objectives, some actions are designed to test and disseminate innovative tools and approaches with a high potential to contribute to the project goals, while other actions are addressed for awareness raising of specific social groups and the general public on Climate Change and in particular on Climate Change adaptation.
The linkage between the provision of key ecosystem services affected by Climate Change in the Mediterranean area (among others, soil retention, polinization, pastures as net primary production, temperature regulation, water provision, prevention of forest fires and prevention of desertification) and some key socio-ecosystems (mountain Mediterranean scrub, reforestation Pinus ssp. forests, Ziziphus arid thicket, coastal dune forests and autochtonous oak forests) of the three NPAs involved, is soundly known on the basis of the long management experience of the project partners, and the current scientific knowledge about the addressed socio-ecosystems and their related habitats.
These habitats are being negatively affected by climate change (and are expected to be increasingly affected in the near future), and these impacts can provoke changes in their capacity to provide ecosystem services. The adaptive management actions proposed within this project will make these habitats to be in a better shape (improvement of their conservation status, increase in surface, reproductive potential and survival of related vegetal species, or adaptive changes in distribution). They have been designed both to adapt to the new scenario of Climate Change and also to go on providing the aforementioned ecosystem services to other species and habitats and specifically to the inhabitants of the influence area of the project and the dependant socioeconomic area.
In order to achieve the already described objectives, we will follow the adaptive management framework. The underlying idea is to create a positive feedback where different involved actors (environmental managers, scientists, citizens) contribute to define environmental problems, create theoretical frameworks to address them, analyze information, decision making and assess their results. This framework will be used both at a local scale (selected NPAs) and global (regional and international). The first result of this adaptive management approach is an equilibrated set of actions based on innovative monitoring and evaluation technologies and participatory approaches as well as a comprehensive set of methodologies to assess, in the period of the project implementation, the socio-ecosystem changes directly related to the future provision of services and adaptation to Climate Change.
Through adaptive management of strategic ecosystems (mountain mediterranean shrubs, pine woods, pre-desert scrubland, coastal dune woods and Quercus woods) in 3 NPA, contribution will be made to protect their key ecosystem services from Climate Change. Main protected services are listed below:
- Soil retention
- Water provision/regulation
- C cycle regulation (sequestration/storage)
- O2 production
- Temperature regulation
- Desertification prevention
- Pollinization/seed dispersion
- Recreation, nature tourism
All the actions implemented during the project will be assessed with a temporal and spatial multiscale indicator system. A first set of indicators will allow to assess the progress of each specific action during their execution. A second set of indicators will allow to assess their effectiveness. Considering the natural pattern of ecosystems functioning, many of the results will be obtained after the end of the project. For all indicators, definite targets, in absolute terms, will be proposed in the first report.
The project will be implemented in three Natural Protected Areas cataloged both as Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA) by the EU Habitats and Birds Directives:
- Doñana NPA: SAC Doñana ES0000024 and SPA Doñana ES0000024
- Sierra Nevada NPA: SAC Sierra Nevada ES6140004 and SPA Sierra Nevada ES6140004
- Cabo de Gata NP: SAC Cabo de Gata-Níjar ES0000046 and SPA Cabo de Gata-Níjar ES0000046
The project is a demonstration project with an ecosystem-based approach. To fight the ecosystems services impoverishment caused in the project area by Climate Change the project aims to increase the resilience (adaptive management to prevent forest fires, desertification, droughts) and conservation status (surface extension, net primary production, reproductive health, survival rate), of several key socioecosystems that have a major role in providing these services. The habitats cited in Annex I of the Habitats Directive that are key to the socioecosystems addressed and will be directly benefited by the project actions are:
- 2270* Wooded dunes with Pinus pinea and/or Pinus pinaster (Action C1)
- 6310 Dehesas with evergreen Quercus spp. (Action C2)
Sierra Nevada NPA
- 5120 Mountain Cytisus purgans formations (Action C5)
- 9230 Galicio-Portuguese oak woods with Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica (Action C6)
- 9340 Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia forests (Action C6)
Cabo de Gata NP
- 6220 * Pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals of the Thero-Brachypodietea (Action C4)
- 5220* Arborescent matorral with Zyziphus (Action C3)
- 5330 Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub (Action C4)
In an indirect way, there are some habitats cited in Annex I of Habitat Directive that is expected to be influenced by the project actions.
- 2150* Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes (Calluno-Ulicetea)
- 2260 Cisto-Lavenduletalia dune sclerophyllous scrubs
- 5330 Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub
Sierra Nevada NPA
- 4090 Endemic oro-Mediterranean heaths with gorse
- 6230 * Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)
- 6430 Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
Cabo de Gata NP
- 1420 Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi)
- 1430 Halo-nitrophilous scrubs (Pegano-Salsoletea)
- 1510* Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia)
- 1520* Iberian gypsum vegetation (Gypsophiletalia)