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Using threatened plant species to identify conservation gaps and opportunities on the island of Cyprus

Christodoulou, C. S., Griffiths, G. H., Vogiatzakis, I. N.
Biodiversity and conservation 2018 v.27 no.11 pp. 2837-2858
European Union, biodiversity, data collection, geographic information systems, grid maps, laws and regulations, natural resources conservation, politics, threatened species, vascular plants, Cyprus, United Kingdom
The cornerstone of EU nature conservation, the Natura 2000 (N2K) network is far from complete in many EU countries, including Cyprus, particularly where new datasets have become available. Thus, an important question in conservation biology is how new data can be incorporated in an effort to redesign N2K where appropriate. We analyse the efficacy of the N2K network in Cyprus, a global biodiversity hotspot, for protecting threatened vascular plants. We used 252 species for which detailed distributional data were available and added new records for 168 species. Overlaying a 1 km² grid map for Cyprus we identified distributional hotspots of threatened species (sensu IUCN) and assessed their representation level within the N2K network. Based on new recorded data we propose IUCN status changes for 15 species. There were 60 hotspots identified (cells with more than 5 threatened species) in the central-west, south, southeast and north parts of the island. GIS analysis demonstrated that 145 out of 252 species (57.5%) occur within the N2K network, ranging from 4 to 100% of their occurrences. Τhe conservation gaps identified are related to 107 threatened species (42.5% of Red Data Book plants) which are either completely outside the N2K network or in those areas where EU legislation is not applicable due to the complex political situation on the island. The most important conservation opportunities are found in the northern part of the island, where the acquis communautaire is suspended and the UK Sovereign Base Areas, which are excluded from the Accession Treaty of Cyprus. In the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus (CYGCA) there are only two important hotspots found outside the N2K network.