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What is Ecological Coherence?

EcoCo LIFE is a £2.3 million (or 3.1 million euro) project funded by the Life+ financial instrument of the European Community for habitat restoration and creation to improve ecological coherence within the Central Scotland Green Network area (CSGN) .

The project will do this by improving biodiversity at key sites - through habitat creation and restoration to improve habitat connectivity and coherence. The project aims to improve habitat and species resilience, contribute to wider ecosystem services (such as improved natural flood management and reducing diffuse pollution) whilst also contributing to the CSGN’s socio-economic impacts.

"EcoCo" stands for "ecological coherence". All currently proposed sites and all sites to be identified during the project will need to be tested for their value for improving ecological coherence – through habitat mapping and modelling, evaluating wider ecosystem benefits and socio-economic impacts by bringing science and stakeholders together – the process and detail of which is some of the project’s innovation. The project will do this through the development of an "Ecological Coherence Protocol". The development of this challenging piece of work involves all project partners and consideration of the range of project sites and habitats covered by the project.

A definition of ecological coherence is as follows (taken from Catchpole, R. (2013), Aspen International. “Ecological Coherence Definitions in Policy and Practice - Final Report”. Contract report to Scottish Natural Heritage, No. 41102);

In the context of the Natura Directives, an ecologically coherent network consists of sites designated for the protection of relevant habitats and/or species. It should support habitats and populations of species in favourable conservation status across the whole of their natural range (including the wider countryside and marine areas beyond Natura 2000 sites); and contribute significantly to the biological diversity of the biogeographic region. At the scale of the whole network, coherence is achieved when: the full range of variation in valued features is represented; replication of specific features occurs at different sites over a wide geographic area; dispersal, migration and genetic exchange of individuals is possible between relevant sites; all critical areas for rare, highly threatened and endemic species are included; and the network is resilient to disturbance or damage caused by natural and anthropogenic factors.

In order to determine ecological coherence for the project sites the main measurable parameters being considered are;

  • patch size
  • diversity
  • habitat structural and functional connectivity
  • ecological functionality
  • presence of endangered, rare or endemic species

Download a project flier