Modeling ecological networks and land value for the prioritization of natural areas conservation

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The strategy promoting Green Infrastructure (GI) from European institutions (2013) considers the spatial structuration of (semi) natural areas as a network and resulting environmental features impacting populations. The strength of the GI’s approach lies in the effort to integrate the ecological and social values of natural areas in combination with other land development (Lafortezza et al. 2013): this strategy encourage an integrated approach of space planning at different scales and promote the multiple services associated with natural areas. From a conservation biologist perspective, it is not a new idea, since it is based on environmental continuity, ecological networks and landscape connectivity. Yet, considering natural landscape as a network that offers a structural frame for the development of the biodiversity of tomorrow (and secure some ESS for our societies) forces to rethink our spatial planning approaches. Landscapes are seen in this paper as a dynamic and structured spaces with a social dimension where management and planning play a key role. Physically, landscapes are composed of artificialized components (Grey infrastructure) and natural components (Green infrastructures) in interaction. In France, planning process is historically a top-down process based on technical and professional expertise. After several decades of planning at national scale, French government tends to give more decisional power to regional and local scales (i.e., decentralization). Multiple guidance documents of soft planning such as SCOT (Schéma de Cohérence Territoriale/ territorial coherence program), present a mix between national, regional strategies and the translation of European directives about environment and socio-economy. Town planning regulations are now framed by this soft planning, but local collectivities still have to adapt it, dealing with all the contextual and operational components. Their task is to spatially, legally and institutionally define and regulate urbanistic rules at the finest scale (hard planning; Purkarthofer, 2016). Moreover, the planning process is gently opening to democratic participation with mitigate successes. We will focus on a problem coming from the difficulties to take account of the different values of natural areas. These values correspond to different estimations of natural areas in ecological or socio-economical terms.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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