Threats of our vegetation heritage

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Due to the global land-use and climate change, endangerment of natural vegetation is increasing. That is why the threatening factors were documented in details during the MÉTA mapping.

We evaluated the actual state of the habitats by the 28 threat types documented during the MÉTA mapping. From the 28 threat-types the most characteristic ones had to be selected that actually threaten the survival and maintenance of the habitat type in the MÉTA hexagon in the next 10-15 years. The strength of the threats was not recorded.

Threats estimated during the MÉTA mapping:
water shortage,
access water,
improper water dynamics,
improper grazing regime,
abandonment from grazing,
improper mowing,
abandonment from mowing,
encroachment of shrubs and trees,
non-natural burning,
afforestation with improper species,
woodland patches managed homogeneously,
improper selection of trees for timber extraction,
logging trees at low age,
new plantations on grasslands,
overpopulated game,
colonization by invasive plant species,
building and construction,
spread of gardens threatens vegetation,
mines destroying vegetation,
establishment of a pond destroying vegetation,
commercial collection of plants

Taking all the habitats into consideration, the most important endangering threats in Hungary are: the spread of invasive species (21%, i.e. 21% of the total area covered by (semi-)natural vegetation is endangered), overpopulated game (9%), forestry, managing vast areas in the same, homogenous manner (9%), drainage (7%), bush encroachment (6%)

- In case of wetlands, the most important threats are: invasive species (27%), drainage (23%), improper water dynamics (9%), bush encroachment (8%) and pollution (7%).

- For grasslands: drainage (26%), invasive species (25%), bush encroachment (18%), tillage (18%), trampling of the vegetation (15%), abandonment of mowing (12%), improper mowing (12%), overgrazing (9%), abandonment of grazing (8%).

- In case of woodlands: invasive species (33%), overpopulated game (31%), homogenous woodland management (30%), improper selection of trees for timber extraction (19%), logging trees at low age (14%) and afforestation with improper species (e.g the preference of the Turkey oak) (13%).

The most seriously endangered habitats in Hungary are as follows:
sand and loess steppe oak woodlands (M2, M4, L2x), tussock sedge communities (B4), extensive orchards (P7), closed lowland oak woodlands (L5, L6), water-fringing and fen tall herb communities (D5), wooded pastures (P45), vegetation of loess cliffs (I2), rich fens and Molinia meadows (D1, D2), Cynosurion grasslands and Nardus swards (E34), swamp woodlands (J2), xero-mesophilous grasslands (H4) and salt steppe oak woodlands (M3).

The least endangered types are the rocky habitats (I4, LY3, H1, G2, M7), certain halophytic (F1a, F5, F1b, F2, B6) and aquatic habitats (A23, A3a, A1), open acidophilous woodlands (L4b), dry shrub vegetation with Crataegus and Prunus spinosa (P2b) and the beech woodlands (K5).

We introduced 12 newly developed indicators, which were applied for the semi-quantitative comparison of the overall degree of endangerment of the Hungarian habitats.

The 12 indicators:

Indicator 1: Proportion of habitat area under documented pressure.
Indicator 2: Proportion of habitat area affected by invasive species.
Indicator 3: Proportion of habitat area affected by game, bush encroachment, drainage or „industrial” forestry.
Indicator 4a: Proportion of habitat area not connected locally.
Indicator 4b: Proportion of habitat occurrences not connected locally.
Indicator 5: Proportion of habitat localities not connected at the landscape scale.
Indicator 6: Proportion of habitat localities with less than 1% cover in the hexagon were calculated.
Indicator 7a: Proportion of habitat area with negative neighbourhood.
Indicator 7b: Proportion of habitat occurrences (hexagon) with negative neighbourhood.
Indicator 8: Proportion of habitat area of degraded stands.
Indicator 9: Habitat loss in the last 150 years.
Indicator 10: Proportion of habitat localities with at least a medium regeneration potential on spot.
Indicator 11: Proportion of habitat localities with at least a medium regeneration potential on neighbouring vegetation stands.
Indicator 12: Proportion of habitat localities with at least a medium regeneration potential on arable fields, open water or on rock surfaces.