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Landscape typology and ecological connectivity assessment to inform Greenway design

Science of the Total Environment

Abstract

European Greenway developments typically 'upcycle' disused transport corridors for multi-use, non-motorised public infrastructure. The linear and relatively undisturbed nature of these disused infrastructures means many currently function as high quality ecological corridors. Corridors providing connectivity among habitat patches can mitigate the effects of fragmentation on biodiversity, allowing species dispersal throughout the landscape matrix. The sustainable integration of Greenway infrastructure and ecological corridor functions requires consideration during design, development and maintenance stages, taking into account surrounding landscape composition and connectivity. This paper presents a method to characterise a proposed Greenway corridor landscape, focusing on habitat composition and ecosystems connectivity. Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA) was used to comprehensively describe the structural connectivity of linear and spatial habitats occurring within the study area. A subsequent multivariate classification of structural connectivity and habitat data determined six distinctive landscape characters. Interpretation of these landscape characters highlights the principal habitat compositions and connectivity conditions in terms of habitat core, links and potential linkages. For example one landscape was intensified, yet retained high woodland connectivity, while another diverse habitat landscape supported little connectivity for woodland and grasslands. The results of this study suggest significant opportunities exist to enhance European landscape connectivity through informed Greenway development. Crucial habitat linkages can be optimised along Greenway infrastructure, contributing towards the realisation of European Greenways as Green Infrastructure and true sustainable projects. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Carlier, J; Moran, J

Journal: Science of the Total Environment

Year: 2019

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