This project aims to develop new tools to help conserve biodiversity in the emblematic wood pasture landscapes of southern Portugal. These areas are undergoing major change because of rural depopulation, land abandonment and other pressures. There is serious concern – but little evidence – about what this all means for the rich fauna and flora. As a result, it is difficult take appropriate action to limit any damage to wildlife. Making the Lynx aims to address this, drawing impetus from on-going efforts to save the Critically Endangered Iberian Lynx – a flagship species whose conservation would ensure the survival of a whole host of other wildlife.
Our work spans original research and practical application. Making the links between landscapes, top predators and wider biodiversity values, we will:
- Measure landscape changes in three core areas over a 30-year period, using a time series of satellite imagery, and translate that into estimated impacts on wild plants, butterflies and birds. This will involve field survey to establish the habitat preferences of these three species groups, and using modelling approaches to predict past and future levels of biodiversity.
- Develop a decision-support tool to help land managers and planners maintain wood pasture biodiversity. The idea is to achieve smarter targeting of agri-environment scheme funding and forest certification, so that they make the most difference. The tool will include a database of best practice guidance and examples of existing habitat restoration initiatives, as well as a specific application to assess landscape suitability for the Iberian Lynx.
- Make the first steps to put this into practice. We will demonstrate the decision-support tool to one target community through a participatory workshop. The production of a booklet will be aimed at reaching wider audiences, and through scientific papers we will contribute to wider efforts to conserve biodiversity in Mediterranean habitat mosaics.
This project is funded by the CCI Collaborative Fund for Conservation.