Context Spatial conservation prioritization (SCP) has most often been applied to the design of reserve network expansion. In addition to occurrences of species and habitats inside protected area candidate sites, one may also be interested about network-level connectivity considerations. Objectives We applied SCP to the identification of ecological networks to inform the development of a new regional plan for the region of Uusimaa (South-Finland, including the Finnish capital district). Methods Input data were 59 high-quality layers of biotope and species distribution data. We identified ecological networks based on a combination of a Zonation balanced priority ranking map and a weighted range size rarity map, to account for both relative and absolute conservation values in the process. We also identified ecological corridors between protected areas and other ecologically high-priority areas using the corridor retention method of Zonation. Furthermore, we identified candidate sites for habitat restoration. Results We found seven large ecological networks (132-1201 km(2)) which stand out from their surrounding landscape in terms of ecological value and have clear connectivity bottlenecks between them. Highest restoration needs were found between large high-priority sites that are connected via remnant habitat fragments in comparatively highly modified areas. Conclusions Land conversion should be avoided in areas of highest ecological priorities and network-level connectivity. Restoration should be considered for connectivity bottlenecks. Methods described here can be applied in any location where relevant spatial data are available. The present results are actively used by the regional council and municipalities in the region of Uusimaa.
- 1181 Ekologi, evolutionsbiologi