Assessment Protocol to Evaluate the Degree of Conservation of Habitats of Community Interest: A Case Study for the 5220* HCI in the Westernmost Localities of Europe

Abstract

The westernmost European nucleus of the 5220* Habitat of Community Interest (HCI) is located in the province of Málaga (Andalusia). In this area, the 5220* HCI is characterized by the presence of scrublands of Gymnosporia senegalensis subsp. europaea. This is a relict species in Europe, with inhabits only in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The westernmost Iberian nuclei of the 5220* HCI are constituted by three isolated nuclei (Málaga–Rincón de la Victoria; Torremolinos; and Pizarra). These nuclei have been only partially mapped. The objectives were: to map the 5220* HCI characterized by G. senegalensis subsp. europaea in detail; to evaluate its degree of conservation (DC); and to identify the chronosequences of the evolution of this habitat from 1957 to 2021, and its fragmentation. Our results have contributed to generating a 1:10,000 scale cartography of the habitat. In general, the DC obtained was from good to excellent. With an excellent DC value, one inland locality (Pizarra) was highlighted. However, the highest reduction in the value of DC was observed in the localities of Torremolinos and Málaga–Rincón de la Victoria which, in addition, have reduced the area of occupancy (AOO) and are fragmented. It is important to note that some areas of Málaga–Rincón de la Victoria reached excellent values of DC, indicating the need to carry out protection.This paper was supported by the project CEIJ-006- “Evaluación del estado de conservación del litoral mediterráneo terrestre en el sureste ibérico (Málaga-Granada, España) mediante el uso de flora relevante, alóctonas invasoras y hábitats 92/43UE. Propuesta de gestión” of the Campus of International Global Excellence of the Sea. A. Picornell was supported by a postdoctoral grant financed by the Consejería de Transformación Económica, Industria, Conocimiento y Universidades (Junta de Andalucía, POSTDOC_21_00056). This publication has been also funded by the University of Malaga (“I Plan Propio de Investigación, Transferencia y Divulgación Científica de la Universidad de Málaga”). Partial funding for open access charge: Universidad de Málag

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