Circa one year ago we had a phone talk with Laurentiu Rozylowicz where he presented his idea to approach the Natura 2000 network through network analysis; within such an approach the protected areas could be the nodes and the shared species are the edges (connections) between them. If we consider species as ecological information about a given biological entity, then addressing the protected area network of a country through network analysis could help in identifying those protected areas which are ecological information hubs (protected areas which are best positioned for an efficient knowledge transfer and diffusion of information within the network). If a protected area is such a hub, this could represent challenges and opportunities for the administrators of these sites as well as for the local communities (e.g. for brand, landscape labeling).
Quite fast after that talk, the manuscript was developed by analyzing 389 Sites of Community Importance (SCI, a special type of Natura 2000 protected area) from Romania. After a reject from a journal, the manuscript was accepted for publication by Journal of Environmental Management and was published just few days ago.
As an interesting result, we found that the SCI Sighisoara Tarnava Mare (in the central part of Romania, see the above map) was highlighted as one of the important hubs at country level. Coincidentally I was raised and developed as researcher in this region of Romania. This Natura 2000 site is situated in one of the best researched rural regions of Romania and this part of Europe, largely thanks to the Sustainable Landscapes in Central Romania project of Prof. Joern Fischer and the follow up project Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformations. And a last note, this region is one of the richest rural regions in ancient oak wood-pastures from Central and Eastern Europe (see here our study).
Its a pleasure for me to be co-author of this research. This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research (https://uefiscdi.ro/), PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0483 to Prof. Laurentiu Rozylowicz.