Connectivity Protected Areas


To be more effective, biodiversity conservation must go beyond protected areas. In the newly adopted Green Infrastructure (GI) strategy (EC, 2013) achieving connectivity and “smart” conservation includes to develop and protect networks of green, natural features, to address impacts of urban sprawl and fragmentation, to increase spatial and functional connectivity between protected and un-protected areas, and improve landscape permeability. Protected areas such as Natura2000 sites form the backbone of a Green Infrastructure for Europe. Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas designated under the Habitats and Birds EU Directives, covering approximately 18% of the territory of the EU across 27 Member States and aiming at the conservation of habitats and species of community interest. Achieving a good ecological coherence of N2k network require the connectivity and continuity of habitats for dispersal of species, but also the integration of the sites’ network in the wider landscape.

JRC research is on developing spatially explicit connectivity models that could help establishing a rapid green infrastructure assessment and considering habitat fragmentation and reduced connectivity in tandem with landscape planning and within sustainable forest management.



  • One spatially explicit modelling framework to provide a macro-scale European vision of the spatial pattern of the Natura 2000 sites’ network and its connectivity with emphasis on Green Infrastructure antagonist (non-GI) components in the inter-site un-protected landscape. Natural/semi-natural lands are considered GI components i.e. favourable lands that facilitate connectivity. Non-GI elements, such as grey infrastructure like build urban areas and roads, and intensive land use, often pose the biggest threats or disturbances for biodiversity conservation and are major factors reducing connectivity.
  • Two landscape models, three families indices to describe the site network pattern, intra-site network structural connectivity (spatially connected and isolated sites), and the inter-site network functional connectivity (based on power weighted dispersal function with least-cost distances between sites influenced by site distribution, distance and land cover/use).
  • Model based on two available free software packages (GUIDOS and Conefor) and GIS Python programming tools, for automated processing.

Further details on poster and report.

Estreguil, C., Caudullo, G., de Rigo,D., 2014. Connectivity ofNatura 2000 forest sites in Europe. F1000Posters 2014, 5: 485. DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.1063300. ArXiv: 1406.1501

Estreguil, C., Caudullo, G., San-Miguel-Ayanz, J. (2013). Connectivity of Natura 2000 Forest Sites. JRC scientific and policy report EUR 26087EN. Luxemburg: Publications Office of the European Union. doi: 10.2788/95065.

Estreguil, C., de Rigo, D., Caudullo, G. (2013b). A proposal for an integrated modelling framework to characterise habitat pattern. Environmental Modelling & Software, Vol. 52 (February 2014), pp. 176-191, ISSN 1364-8152, doi: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2013.10.011.

Free software :


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