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Freshwater conservation planning informed and validated by public participation: The Ebro catchment, Spain, as a case study

Abstract: Freshwater ecosystems generally lack adequate protection. In this regard, defining clear and objective conservation criteria through public participation is extremely important, as it can greatly enhance the feasibility of the conservation plans by building credibility, salience, and legitimacy. This article presents an exercise of systematic freshwater conservation planning informed and validated by public participation using river protected areas (RPAs) in the Ebro catchment, Spain, as a case study. A public participation process was performed to define the conservation criteria that RPAs should meet, resulting in a detailed list of conservation features and constraints that were poorly covered by the present network of RPAs in Spain. The present network of RPAs failed to adequately protect aquatic biodiversity, as 48% of the taxa did not meet the conservation target, including seven species of vulnerable invertebrates and three of vulnerable fish. marxan was used to identify a minimum set of additional areas that would help to meet the conservation target by adequately representing all conservation features and by increasing the efficiency of the network of protected areas. When marxan was run without restrictions, none of the present RPAs was selected, suggesting that the current network of RPAs is not efficiently meeting the conservation demands expressed through public participation. Overall, this study shows that combining public participation and systematic conservation planning could result in more efficient and enhanced protection of freshwater ecosystems by integrating a wide variety of conservation preferences into the design of RPAs. Also, according to the results, having detailed and updated information on the distribution of invasive and endangered species, as well as increasing the frequency and spatial extension of ecological monitoring, are key to meeting the public demands of enhanced freshwater biodiversity protection and the preservation of sites with high ecological value.

 Fuente: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems Volume29, Issue8 August 2019 Pages 1253-1267

Editorial: Wiley-Blackwell

 Fecha de publicación: 01/08/2019

Nº de páginas: 15

Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

 DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3108

ISSN: 1052-7613,1099-0755

Proyecto español: RYC?2013?13979

Url de la publicación: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/aqc.3108