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Many threatened species associated with cultural landscapes

Target

1.2 No species or habitat types will become extinct or be lost, and the status of threatened and near-threatened species and habitat types will be improved.

Indicator

Number of threatened species in the following major ecosystems: marine and coastal waters, rivers and lakes, wetlands, forest, mountains and cultural landscapes

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

Many species on the Norwegian Red List of Species 2015 are associated with cultural landscapes. The Red List uses a system of 13 main habitats to describe where species are found, and 'semi-natural areas' correspond closely with cultural landscapes as used in the Nature Index and for this indicator. There is also some overlap with 'arable land', 'heavily modified areas' and certain other main habitats.

In all, 565 threatened species are associated with semi-natural areas, 75 species with arable land and 155 species with heavily modified areas. However, these figures cannot simply be added up, since many species are found in more than one of the main habitats. About 24 % of all species listed as threatened in the 2015 Red List are associated with semi-natural habitats, which include traditionally managed meadow and pasture that is not fertilised, coastal heathland and boreal heath. The only main habitat with more threatened species is forest.

Threatened species associated with cultural landscapes include the elder-flowered orchid Dactylorhiza sambucina, fungi such as Geoglossum difforme (an earth tongue fungus) and the pink waxcap (Hygrocybe calyptriformis), and insects including the great yellow bumble bee Bombus distinguendus and the scarce heath butterfly (Coenonympha hero).

Active management essential

The loss of open semi-natural habitats is the greatest threat to species associated with cultural landscapes. The three main reasons for such losses are abandonment of traditional management, a switch to modern intensive farming, and development and construction that results in the complete loss of semi-natural habitats. Cultivation of traditional semi-natural areas is probably a less serious threat than it used to be. Some areas are still being developed for housing and other purposes, particularly in the most densely-populated areas of the country. Afforestation of open areas – sometimes for climate change mitigation and otherwise for Christmas tree production or ordinary commercial forestry – is currently a growing threat

Active management is essential to prevent traditional semi-natural areas from becoming overgrown with trees and shrubs. Areas that are no longer traditionally managed (either abandoned or fertilised and cultivated) change so greatly that we lose vital habitats for a wide variety of plants, insects and other species.

Action plans and designation of priority species

National action plans have been drawn up for some species that are associated with cultural landscapes. Four species that are mainly or entirely associated with cultural landscapes have been designated as priority species under the Nature Diversity Act. They are the chequered blue butterfly (Scolitantides orion), the hermit beetle (Osmoderma eremita) and two plants, the northern dragon's head (Dracocephalum ruyschiana) and the black vanilla orchid (Nigritella nigra ssp. nigra).