Land use planning and land management
Land use planning and land management have a significant influence on the functioning of ecosystems and their biological diversity. Not only biologically active surface but also interactions between different systems are important.
In an ecological structure of landscape, we can distinguish zones, junctions, and strips. The zones are huge associations of ecosystems possessing common features (e.g. big forest complexes) or vast areas of similar dominant functions (e.g. agricultural land, forests). The junctions are the areas of particular species richness, which supply to the environment, or in the case of developed areas, they are cities where a high social and economic potential is concentrated. The strips are ecological corridors in the landscape, and roads, railway tracks, etc. in the developed area.
What results from the ecology of landscape is that the following are conducive to the high biological diversity at all levels:
- Wide territories and compact spatial structure of zones,
- High topological differentiation of zones,
- High internal differentiation of zones,
- Big number and high typological differentiation of junctions,
- Wide territories of junctions,
- Dense network of ecological corridors joining zones and junctions in common system,
- Big width of ecological corridors.
Especially valuable ecological corridors for many species are river valleys, preserved in almost natural state. Such valleys are not only ecological corridors but also refuges for many species. Other areas of raised biological diversity are contact zones of big landscape units with contrastive nature features (“landscape ecoton” effect) and other regions of high diversity and mosaic character. The factors having negative influence on biological diversity in landscape are:
- Destruction or violation of ecological junctions structure and their connection with the environment,
- Development of ecological junctions surroundings,
- Landscape fragmentation,
- Narrowing ecological corridors, especially regulation of river beds and development of river valleys,
- Crossing main ecological stripes with technological infrastructure stripes.
A few people realize the destructive influence of busy communicative tracks on the functioning of nature. For many species, motorways constitute impassable barriers. Unfortunately, one of the main features of land management is the increase of roads network density and communication intensity. The space fragments marked by high cohesion of all environmental components are called basic natural spatial units. In order to protect natural ecological processes and biological diversity we should try to act equally in the whole basic natural spatial units area, and not to break basic natural spatial units into smaller parts. Unfortunately, such landscape planning has been rarely used in Poland so far, and only in national parks. Only recently has this issue been taken into account in landscape planning.