Habitat fragmentation is recognised as one of the major challenges facing the conservation of habitats and species in a changing climate. The EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy highlights that many ecosystems within the EU have been degraded by habitat fragmentation. Fragmented habitats are often less biodiverse and of poorer quality, with a larger edge-to-habitat ratio, than larger or less fragmented habitat patches. Habitat fragmentation results in diminished ecological coherence and potential reductions in ecosystem services. Both the EU Habitats Directive and the revised Scottish Biodiversity Strategy recognise the contributing effect of habitat fragmentation on ecosystem degradation, and the need to create a fully functioning, ecologically coherent network. The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area is Scotland?s most heavily fragmented lowland area, comprising just 13% of Scotland?s land area yet home to 70% of the population and most of its industry.
The objective of the EcoCo LIFE Scotland project is to deliver habitat management in the most beneficial places within the CSGN area to improve ecological coherence. It will implement a suite of concrete conservation activities to better connect habitats and increase their biodiversity, with improvements in quality and functionality across landscapes. To do this, the project will develop a new mapping methodology ? an 'Ecological Coherence Protocol' ? to identify the most beneficial places for people and wildlife, and it will test its application through the implementation of habitat restoration activities at selected sites. The project will seek to deliver multifunctional benefits ? for example, it will help reach the objective of the Water Framework Directive to ensure the good ecological status of water bodies and help implement the Floods Directive by taking coordinated measures to reduce flood risk. The implementation of habitat management restoration to improve ecological coherence will also help fulfil biodiversity objectives and improve the resilience of habitats and species to changing climatic conditions.