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Small decline in Nature Index values for mountain ecosystems

Target

1.1 Norwegian ecosystems will achieve good status and deliver ecosystem services.

Indicator

Ecological status and trends for the following major ecosystems: marine and coastal waters, rivers and lakes, wetlands, forest, mountains and cultural landscapes (see the Norwegian Nature Index and the Water Management Regulations)

Nature Index values for mountain ecosystems

Source: www.naturindeks.no

Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

The state of biodiversity in mountain ecosystems as measured by the Norwegian Nature Index has fluctuated over the past 25 years, but the value for the whole country is now slightly lower than in 1990. In 2014, the Nature Index value for mountain ecosystems for Norway as a whole was 0.62 (in this system, the reference state is given the value 1, and is defined to correspond to minimal disturbance from human activities.)

Nature Index values for mountain ecosystems improved from 2000 to 2010, but are now 3.6 % lower than in 1990, indicating a decline in mountain biodiversity. This is true of Norway as a whole and of each separate region except North Norway. The largest decline has been in Southern Norway.

The indicator species included in the Nature Index for mountain ecosystems that have shown the strongest negative trend from 1990 to 2014 are ptarmigan, willow grouse, rough-legged buzzard, golden plover and Lapland bunting. Other indicators, including the Alpine Salix belt, golden eagle and bluethroat, have shown a positive trend.

Some of the most important pressures on mountain species are land-use change and the physical disturbance caused by infrastructure development (road and railway construction, hydropower developments, holiday cabins and other tourism-related developments). The abandonment of traditional farming techniques such as grazing and mowing may also affect many typical mountain species that use open areas near montane forests.

Climate change is another important pressure on mountain ecosystems. For example, milder winters can result in the formation of a layer of ice on the ground or snow surface, making conditions more difficult for small rodents living under the snow. This may cause peaks in their population density to become less regular or disappear. The Nature Index results indicate that these effects can have major impacts on other species at various levels in the food chain, including ptarmigan and willow grouse (herbivores) and Arctic fox and raptors (predators).