Coupling indicators of ecological value and ecological sensitivity with indicators of demographic pressure in the demarcation of new areas to be protected: The case of the Oltrepò Pavese and the Ligurian-Emilian Apennine area (Italy)
The ecological value (EV) and the ecological sensitivity (ES) of the habitats of a given landscape are essential and preliminary dimensions to be considered in planning and conservation policy. Using a methodology suggested by the Commission of the European Community [C.E.C., Commission of European Community, 1991. CORINE Biotopes manual, habitats of the European Community. A method to identify and describe consistently sites of major importance for nature conservation. EUR 12587/3], a network of 25,318 CORINE Biotopes (CB) habitats was identified in an area covering 321,845 ha in Northern Italy (Oltrepò Pavese and Ligurian-Emilian Apennine). All the habitats were evaluated using a set of nine indicators for both the EV and ES, and a sub-group of 528 CBs with both the greatest EV and the greatest ES was identified using the Ideal Vector method. We defined these 528 CB habitats as HOT SPOTS of Ecological Attention (HSEA). A sustainable conservation policy for the HSEAs needs a third dimension given by the trend (positive, neutral or negative) of the human pressure on the CB habitats. Intensity and direction of the human pressure (HP) on the area studied were derived through demographic analysis of recent official data. By also taking into account, the results of the demographic analysis, a more realistic policy for the HSEAs can be discussed and proposed.