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Ecological impact of disturbance

New plans and projects within, or in the surroundings of protected areas can bring about disturbance of birds. In many cases, research in the area itself is needed to quantify effects on areas and species protected by nature legislation, such as Natura 2000. Disturbance instances concern the effects of lighting, sound and visible human activities on birds, bats or other species, caused by the creation of new infrastructure, industrial parks, buildings or recreational facilities. This knowledge may be used, in combination with a site survey, to advise on measures that prevent negative effects.

A&W has carried out a large number of studies on disturbance by new plans and projects. Several studies provided data on the effect of disturbance: grazing pressure by geese in the vicinity of roads, numbers of waterfowl in wetlands with recreational use, and breeding bird densities in the vicinity of waterways. This knowledge can be applied directly in impact studies.

A&W has developed a specific approach for determining the effects of new recreational facilities in protected areas, particularly considering waterfowl and marsh breeding birds in Natura 2000 sites and surroundings. Essentially this involves confronting a 'nature map' (presenting key habitat and species distribution) with a map of recreational use (recreational facilities and activities). This type of research is conducted in the Lauwersmeer, Weerribben, Wieden, and various locations along lake IJssel. Based on data of recreational use, habitat quality and bird numbers in the Northwestern part of Overijssel, a GIS model is developed to determine the relationship between recreational use, and density and distribution of marsh breeding birds. In addition, effects of developments in recreational use in Frisian lakes and marshes is under study. Please contact drs. Ron van der Hut for more information on disturbance impact studies.