Ecological Connectivity: Towards a Framework for Understanding Network Nature
Chair: Ruben Huele, Hans Bekker, Helias A. Udo de Haes
Invitation to a thought experiment
During the last centuries European nature has been fragmented by human settlements and infrastructure, but is recently being reconnected by corridors and fauna passages. This is not a return to a former situation, even supposing such a return would be possible in nature, but it is the creation of unprecedented network of “planned” or “designed” nature across Europe. Empirical data and a sound theoretical understanding of this process are required, if only to provide a robust scientific basis to the relevant policy discussions. Furthermore, large amounts of money are involved and the measures taken will influence the European nature for a long time to come. On such a scale, we can assume that European nature will be subject to evolutionary forces and we should face questions like:
- Which species will prosper and which ones will decay?
- Will the ecosystems become more or become less dynamic?
- Will food chains become longer or shorter?
- Will there be more or less migration?
- Will local biodiversity be higher or lower?
Finding an answer to these theoretical questions is no easy matter and therefore we propose to start with an ecological thought experiment. During the workshop we will, together with the participants, build a few ecological scenarios. The organizers will pose a hypothetical situation, after which the participants will be asked to draw from their experience and sketch possible ecological developments. It should be noted that building scenarios is not about predicting the future, but about thought experiments and consistency, regardless of likelihood.
As a result of the workshop, we hope to have a clearer view on the range of possibilities for the future development of European nature. The workshop will draw conclusions relevant for defragmentation policies and, if possible, for a research agenda.