Europe's ecological backbone: recognising the true value of our mountains
EEA Report No 6/2010
Europe's mountain areas have social, economic and environmental capital of significance for the entire continent. This importance has been recognised since the late 19th century through national legislation; since the 1970s through regional structures for cooperation; and since the 1990s through regional legal instruments for the Alps and Carpathians. The European Union (EU) first recognised the specific characteristics of mountain areas in 1975 through the designation of Less Favoured Areas (LFAs). During the last decade, EU cohesion policy and the Treaty of Lisbon have both focused specifically on mountains.
- EEA (European Environment Agency)
- Published: 15 Sep 2010
- Europes ecological backbone.pdf [31.7 MB]
Wilderness comparison Four distinct charts showing comparison of wilderness areas between massifs and between countries.
Mountain ranges involved in the Cantabrian mountains-Pyrenees-Alps Initiative Areas covered by the proposed mountain corridor between the Cantabric Mountains and the Western Alps
Annual mean air temperature and thawing degree days from May to September at Latnjajaure, northern Sweden The graph shows the annual mean air temperature (black dots and regression line) and thawing degree days (TDD; bar plot), i.e. temperature sum > 0°C, from May to September at Latnjajaure, northern Sweden, during 1993–2008.
Percentage of HNV farmlands overlapped by Natura 2000 sites inside and outside mountains at country level, and the mountain area of the country The chart shows the percentage of HNV-farmland overlapping with Natura2000, both in- and outside mountainous areas at a national scale.
Changes in land covers inside and outside Natura 2000 sites in the Czech Republic and Germany from 1990 to 2000 The bar charts show the percentage of each and cover flows in and outside Natura2000 sites, within Czech Republic and Germany from 1990 to 2000.
Proportion of mountain protected area within nationally designated areas, Natura 2000 sites, or both The chart shows the proportion of only NDA, only Natura 2000 and their overlaps in Europe Countries for all countries with data
National percentage of area covered by Natura 2000 sites inside and outside mountains by country, and of area covered by mountains The graph shows a comparison at national level of percentage of area covered by Natura2000 sites inside and outside mountains, as well as the percentage of mountainous areas by country.
Permanent settlement area within the Alpine Convention area Available settlement area at level of municipalities
Proportion of area of classes of natural and environmental assets within in EU Member States with mountains The graph shows the percentages of the different environmental assets classes of the mountain area.
Foresight Analysis of Rural areas Of Europe (FARO-EU) classification of rural areas FARO-EU (Foresight Analysis of Rural areas Of Europe) rural typology.
Vanishing open landscape in the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve, Slovakia Land use development of the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve in 3 time series (1949, 1987, 2003) identified from aerial photographs
Distribution of Natura 2000 sites in mountains across Europe The map shows the distribution of Natura2000 sites across European mountain massifs.
Existing and proposed protected areas within the Cantabrian Mountains- Pyrenees-Alps Initiative The map shows protected areas and Natura 2000 areas within the Cantabrian Mountains- Pyrenees-Alps corridor.
Distribution of nationally-designated areas in mountain areas The map shows the National Designated Areas within each European Mountain Massif
Distribution of the area of Natura 2000 sites in mountain massifs The graph shows the distribution of the Natura2000 sites over the European mountain massifs.
Habitats in favourable conservation status in EU Member States The chart shows habitats in favourable conservation status in EU Member States, inside and outside mountain areas
High Nature Value farmland in the mountains of Turkey The maps shows High Nature Value farmland in the mountains of Turkey, defined as areas above 750 m.
Contribution of each land cover flow in the total amount of changes per year in mountains (100%) between 1990 and 2000 for six selected countries. Proportion of each land cover flows in the total amount of land cover changes observed inside mountain massifs per year for six European countries.
Annex I habitat distribution across massifs The pie charts show the relative distribution of a number of habitats types, defined by the Annex I of the Habitats Directive, across the massifs.
Number of mountain habitat types in individual groups of Annex I. habitats The graph summarizes links between 9 main habitat groups distinguished by the Annex I of the Habitat Directive and mountain regions. Three types of relations are distinguished: mountain habitat; both mountain and non-mountain habitat; non-mountain habitat.
Overlaps of High Nature Value (HNV) farmland and LFA designations in Spain and Portugal The maps shows Overlaps of HNV farmland and LFA designations in Spain and Portugal.
Distribution of FARO-EU rural classes across Europe and massifs The map shows the distribution of FARO-EU rural topology across Europe and European mountain massifs.
Percentage of area covered by nationally-designated areas inside and outside mountains by country, also indicating the percentage of the national area covered by mountains The chart shows the distribution of NDA in Europe Countries for all countries with data Tags / keywords: National Designated Areas, outside and inside mountain massifs, Europe, biodiversity protection.
Distribution of nationally-designated areas in mountain massifs The chart shows the distribution of nationally-designated areas in mountain massifs across Europe
Proportions of habitat types in each massif classified by conservation status The graph shows the proportions of habitat types in each massif classified by conservation status.
The GLORIA target regions in Europe The GLORIA target regions in Europe. Vascular plant species richness (total and endemic species; data pooled from four summit sites per region) is shown for the initial 18 GLORIA-Europe regions.
Hotspots of plant, bird and mammal diversity based on richness and narrow endemism The map shows hotspots of plant, bird and mammal diversity in Europe based on richness and narrow endemism
Area classified and mountain area The maps give an overview of areas classified under Less Favoured Areas articles and mountain areas.
Contribution of each land cover flow in the total amount of changes per year in mountains (100%) between 2000 and 2006 for six selected countries. Proportion of each land cover flows in the total amount of land cover changes observed inside mountain massifs per year for six European countries.
National parks and nature reserves in Iceland Map of Iceland showing parks/reserves, plus elevation, major roads and tracks
Distribution of land cover changes in mountain massifs of EU-15 Member States (excluding Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden) and the new EU-27 Member States (excluding Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) in 1990-2000 Comparison of the distribution of land cover changes according to the LEAC land cover flow classification in mountain massifs, between EU-15 members (excluding Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden) and new EU-27 members (excluding Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.)
Post-socialist land use change in the border region of Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine Differences in land use change (farmland abandonment and logging) among countries and ownership
Land cover classes in the mountain area of each country as a proportion of the area of each class for all European mountains: EU-27 The graph describes the % of each CLC Class by each country withing mountain areas of EU-27 counties using as reference the proportion of the area of each class
Land cover classes in the mountain area of each country as a proportion of national area: EU-27 The graph describes the % of each CLC Class by each country withing mountain areas of EU-27 using as reference the total national area
Land cover classes in the mountain area of each country as a proportion of national area: other countries The graph describes the % of each CLC Class by each country withing mountain areas of non EU-27 using as reference the total national area
Distribution of land cover changes in mountain massifs of EU-15 Member States (excluding Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden) and the new EU-27 Member States (excluding Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) in 2000-2006 Comparison of the distribution of land cover changes according to the LEAC land cover flow classification in mountain massifs, between EU-15 members (excluding Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden) and new EU-27 members (excluding Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.)
Dominant landscape types in mountain areas of Europe, 2006 The maps describes the dominant landscape types (artificial dominance, dispersed urban areas, broad pattern intensive agriculture, rural mosaic and pasture, forest, open semi-natural or natural and composite
Average contribution of each land cover flow to the total amount of changes between 1990-2000 and 2000-2006 in European mountain massifs Proportion of each land cover flows in the total amount of land cover changes observed in mountainous regions.
Land cover classes in the mountain area of each country as a proportion of the area of each class for all European mountains: other countries The graph describes the % of each CLC Class by each country withing mountain areas of non EU-27 using as reference the proportion of the area of each class
Distribution of Corine Land Cover classes in massifs (ha), 2006 The graph describes the distribution of the CLC classes in hectares according the mountain massifs of Europe
Natural (1909–1948) and recent (1949–2007) flows for the River Vojmån, and flow according to the plans for diverting water from its catchment -
Annual and cumulative cost of damage caused by floods/inundation, debris flows, landslides and rockfalls for 1972 to 2007, as well as the total costs of the six major flood events indicated by short horizontal lines and date -
Glacier mass balance of European regions, 1967–2008 The figure show cumulative mass balance of long-term monitoring programs averaged for the six European regions.
Glacier distribution in Europe The map shows the distribution of glaciers and ice caps as well as the locations of the available long-term mass balance observations labeled according to their region.
Yearly relative frequency of lightning-induced fires with respect to total number of fires in the summer period (June to September) in the Swiss Alps -
Annual variability in lightning-induced fire frequency (dots) and burnt area (bars) in the Swiss Alps absolute and relative frequency distribution
Change in temperature for the Greater Alpine Region, 1760–2007: Single years and 20-year smoothed mean series Single years (thin lines) and 20-year smoothed means (bold lines). All values relative to 1851–2000 averages, summer and winter half-years (first row), annual means and annual range (second row).
Valais forest state for lower elevation areas Forest state (biomass) as simulated by the forest model LandCLim, across two elevation gradients in the Valais, Switzerland
The Valais The main Rhone Valley runs through the centre of the region, with industry and agriculture mainly at lowers elevations (A). The impacts of increased temperature and drought on ecosystem services are predicted to be most pronounced in the main valley. Side valleys commonly have steep slopes and are dominated by forests that often provide protection from rock fall and avalanches (e.g. the Saas-Valley, B). Traditionally, grazing and high-elevation agriculture have been practiced at higher elevations. However, as the intensity of these activities has decreased over the past century, parts of these high-elevation areas are being reclaimed by forest (C).
Percentage of population exposed to noise within and outside mountain areas in Austria due to major roads and major railways with more than 6 mio vehicles or 60 000 train passages per year (excluding Vienna) Difference on the percentage of people exposed to more than 55dB Lden and more than 50 dB Lnight inside and outside mountain areas in Austria. The calculations were done excluding the number of people exposed inside Viena and considering two different noise sources: noise from major roads (with more than 6 mio vehicles/year) and noise from major railways (with more than 60.000 train passages/year).
Proportion of mountain massifs affected by TEN-T infrastructure The graph describes the percentage of each massifs affected by infrastructure network (Roads, railways and inland waterways of versions 1996, 2001 and 2003).
Location of TEN-T corridors crossing mountain massifs The map rapresents the infrastructure network (Roads, railways and inland waterways of versions 1996, 2001 and 2003) that pass through the massifs
Road distance to nearest motorway or major road on base of LAU2-units (municipalities) Road accessibility in km from the centre of municipalities to the next motorway or major road
Alpine-crossing transport total volumes 1999–2008 for the Alpine Arc C (Alpine crossings from Ventimiglia in the west to Wechsel in the east) -
Box plots representing the accessibility in minutes per massif The green bars show values between the 25th and 75th percentiles. The vertical bars are the median
Population density in mountain massifs, 2008 It shows the ratio between the population within each Mountain Massif and the surface of each Mountain Massif * = Belgium and Germany; ** = the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.
National population in mountain massifs, 2008 it shows the population number within each European Mountain Massif for each country
Projected change in mean seasonal and annual river flow between 2071-2100 and the reference period 1961-1990 Simulations with LISFLOOD driven by HIRHAM HadAM3H/HadCM3 based on IPCC SRES scenario A2.
Seasonal changes in precipitation and temperature up until the end of the 21st century, according to CLM scenario A1B Left: absolute difference in temperature
Projected change in daily average river flow for four rivers Projected river flow 2071-2100 (green line) and the observed river flow 1961-1990 (orange line)
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