Reginald Noble and Alicja Breymeyer
In the past few years, there has been considerable international concern about the rate of species loss on a global scale. The 1992 International Convention on Biodiversity (which was signed at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the expanding Biosphere Reserve Program under the auspices of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and many other projects highlight the priority that these worries are receiving. These international activities also recognize that neither pollution nor ecosystems respect political boundaries; cooperation on many different levels is required.
The National Academy of Sciences of the USA (NAS) and the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) began bilateral cooperation on environmental issues in 1986. These earlier efforts included a series of workshops and resulted in the publication of Ecological Risks: Perspectives from Poland and the United States (National Academy Press, 1990). In 1994, building on work both academies have completed in recent years and tapping into their strong ties with the scientific and ecological communities in Central Europe, the NAS and PAN agreed to organize a workshop on "Biodiversity Conservation in Transboundary Protected Areas." Dr. Stanley Krugman, Dr. Reginald Noble, and Dr. Alicja Breymeyer were called upon to assist with planning and to serve as workshop co-chairs.
The papers contained in this volume represent proceedings of this workshop. This workshop took place in Poland from May 16-24, 1994, with the first half of the meetings held at the Bieszczady Biosphere Reserve, while the second half took place at the Tatry Biosphere Reserve. By holding the meetings in two different biosphere reserves, the ten NAS participants were able to experience first hand some of the unique aspects of biodiversity conservation problems in Central and Eastern Europe, while at the same time a split venue made the meetings accessible to a larger number of European participants. In all, more than fifty Poles were in attendance along with ample representation by experts from the Republic of Belarus, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and the Slovak Republic. These participants ranged broadly in background and included scientists, managers, NGO representatives, policy makers, GEF program managers, and representatives of funding organizations.
The purpose of the workshop was to explore opportunities to integrate science and management in transboundary protected areas in Central Europe for the conservation of biodiversity. More specific goals included:
Clarification of current and future problems of wildlife management, particularly overgrazing;
Clarification of current and future problems of tourism and recreational use of protected areas;
Sharing of current Western theories and practices on forest management, including restoration ecology and landscape ecology; and
Development of a network of scientists and managers to cooperate in biodiversity conservation in transboundary protected areas.
By publishing the proceedings of this workshop, it is hoped that the benefits of the workshop will be extended beyond the sphere of actual participants and that it will have a beneficial effect on the thinking and actions of the region's ministries of forestry and environment, interested U.S. government agencies, international organizations, and other relevant parties.
The many people who contributed to the success of this workshop and who worked so diligently on this publication are too numerous to name. However, we would like to express our thanks to the local hosts, Dr. Woj Wojciechowski (Director, Bieszczady National Park and Biosphere Reserve) and Dr. Wojciech Gasienica Byrcyn (Director, Tatry National Park and Biosphere Reserve), whose efforts were greatly appreciated by all who participated and who contributed to the collegial atmosphere which quickly developed during the workshop. In addition, Stephen Deets of the National Research Council and Bozena Grabinska, Andrzej Piotrowski, Violetta Narkiewicz, and Jolanta Wieckowska of the Institute of Geography of PAN provided invaluable assistance in the organization and execution of the workshop. Stephen Deets also supervised the final editing and production of this volume, and editorial assistance was provided by, among others, Natalie Brand, Kelly Robbins, and Sharon Vandivere of the National Research Council. Finally, financial support from the Ford Foundation, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Frank Press Fund of the National Research Council is gratefully acknowledged.
Highlights of each section along with relevant discussions during the workshop are summarized below.
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS OF CONSERVATION OF PROTECTED AREAS
In order to lay the foundation for the rest of the book, it begins with a review of concepts of management and restoration of ecosystems. The themes in this first section were discussed throughout the workshop in Poland and appear repeatedly
throughout this book. This is particularly clear in the paper on ''Biological Diversity of Vegetational Landscapes: Problems with Evaluation" by Dr. Jerzy Solon. Dr. Solon touches on questions of the value of areas with species richness versus those with rare species, the effects of anthropogenic disturbance, and the trade-offs of different biodiversity management strategies. All of these issues are developed more fully in the sections below.
In the paper by Dr. Karen Holl, the difficulties of restoring degraded lands are detailed. First, it is usually questionable whether the original condition can or even should be recreated, although minimal structural and functional characteristics of the ecosystem must be restored. However, Dr. Holl emphasizes the importance of balancing social needs in order to successfully complete the project. The extent and costs of these technologies and approaches, which are still in a development phase, put a premium on goal-setting for both forest preservation and restoration.
Dr. Stanley Krugman provides some broad justifications for establishing protected areas, and he lays out six considerations for the design of protected areas. The critical elements which must be taken into account are purpose, size, shape, location, management strategy, and legal basis. In a presentation specifically on fragmented ecosystems (which is not included in this volume), Dr. Stephen Berwick built on these concepts. He stressed that the design of reserve systems should include informed acquisition, expansion, and restoration of relict systems, such as old-growth ecosystems existing in the North American Pacific Northwest coniferous forests, the once characteristic mixed lowland forests of Central Europe in Bialowieza in Poland and Belarus, and the beech groves of the Carpathian mountains. Currently many old-growth systems are vulnerable due to "edge-creep", as wind and light replace the forest and scrub and animals of farms invade.
The emerging tenets of conservation biology are being applied in the protection of fragmented coniferous forests of the American Northwest. The effects of edge creep, reduced carrying capacities of small fragments for large animals, the cascading effects of extinctions of linked species, and deleterious genetic changes in small inbred populations can result in populations so small that further extinctions are inevitable. General calculations of minimum viable populations of animals show the need to maintain populations of at least 500 individuals, and for a viable forest, there must be at least 50 hectare (ha) of old-growth character. However, large mobile animals require much more landscape. For example, a wolf pack may have a territory of 150,000 ha and therefore will require an intervening forest "matrix" similar to the original conditions of an old-growth landscape. A mature forest can provide such a matrix if harvesting methods of long-rotations, mixed species, and uneven ages occupy about one-third of the landscape. Some of the unusual, distinctive features of old forests cannot be duplicated in young, managed ecosystems, including a preponderance of predators based on a food chain dependent on decaying wood from the dead trees, which are usually removed in a sanitary forest operation. Since forest fragments, like other islands, maintain their characteristic array of plants and animals by balancing in-migrants with extinctions, the size, number, shape, and distance between islands becomes as
much a matter of biology as land planning and acquisition. This reinforces some of the ideas raised by Dr. Holl on conservation and restoration being a political-social challenge as much as a scientific one.
While there is general agreement on the value of corridors for mobile animals, there are conflicting opinions about their utility for the genetic flow in many plant species. The most obvious example of landscape corridors are riparian ecosystems, the topic of the paper by Dr. Catherine Pringle. In addition, streams are an ideal landscape unit to focus on with regards to transboundary areas as streams and watersheds often cross political boundaries.
Dr. Pringle discusses the need for a conceptual basis for viewing rivers and streams within landscapes for the development of effective conservation strategies. Management within stream watersheds should be approached from an understanding of the natural connectivity and variability between stream properties, including the four major dimensions: longitudinal linkages along stream channels (e.g., upstream-down-stream); lateral linkages between a stream channel and its floodplain; vertical linkages between the stream channel and groundwater; and a temporal scale. Natural and human disturbances interact to determine physical and biological characteristics on all of these plains of reference.
Scientists, managers, and conservationists are broadening their view, and policies on river conservation are beginning to reflect these changes. An example of fledgling attempts at international cooperation on a large-scale can be seen in the on-going discussion on the Danube River and Delta, which drains 12 European nations. During the workshop, Dr. Kazimierz Drobowolski emphasized that the Bug and Odra are examples in Poland of major environmental problems requiring international cooperation.
During the discussion, there was agreement that conservation biology and restoration ecology need to be integrated into protected management plans, tested in "real world" situations, and continually modified to respond to the needs and constraints of specific cases. The paper by Drs. Boguslaw Bobek, Doreta Kabza, and Kajetan Merta on MAB Biosphere Reserves provides information on areas where these concepts are, or should be, applied. Arguing that the era of national parks is over and that they have fulfilled their historic mission, these authors address how biosphere reserves seek to overcome some of the continuing problems mentioned above of fragmented ecosystems and impacts of degraded areas surrounding the parks. UNESCO, under the MAB program, seeks to enhance the viability of strictly protected areas by the creation of buffer zones and transition zones which will balance ecological requirements with the economic needs of people living in these areas.
BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION STRATEGIES IN THE PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES
The second section includes papers on the biodiversity strategies of the United States, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland. The papers by Dr. Victor Perfenov and Michael Pikulik and by Dr. Zuzanna Guziova highlight some of the specific problems of biodiversity conservation in Central Europe.
Not surprisingly, there were some disagreements on the definition of biodiversity. A simple yet all encompassing definition is that biodiversity is the variety of life and its processes. This includes genetic, species, community, and ecosystem levels of organization. Despite some differences in meaning, the basic concept has already been used to develop programs and strategies for conservation. Although the approaches used varied widely, there was a remarkable convergence on the final goal: maintenance of species and habitat diversity and ecological processes. The programs and strategies were tailored to include not only biological but also economic and social factors. All countries have developed lists of threatened and endangered species and passed legislation to ensure their protection. The programs of each country differ primarily in the stage of implementation rather than in the broad concepts underlying them.
There are, however, limitations and controversies in applying the theoretical concepts of biodiversity. Some of these are the impossibility of measuring all levels of diversity at the same time, problems of interpreting indices of diversity, and the apparent lack of correlation between diversity and the potential value and/or stability of an ecosystem.
Current measures of biodiversity often have limited comparability and are hard to interpret. Much work needs to be done in developing meaningful measures for evaluating progress. In spite of this, when restricted to particular taxonomic groups and taking into account comparable scales, these measurements may be of some use. Measurements of total biodiversity serve as but one of several criteria for evaluation; other potential criteria include naturalness, uniqueness, vulnerability, ecological importance, the presence of "keystone species", and the potential utility for humans. The real questions are: What do we want to manage? Why do we want to manage it? and How can we do so? These questions give us insight into the kinds of measurements that are needed.
The invasion of alien or exotic species also pose special problems for conservation and evaluation of biodiversity in any given area. This occurs along both geographical and temporal scales. One problem with existing measures of biodiversity is that they may mask the significant replacement of native species by alien or exotic ones. Such species can seriously alter ecosystem structure and function. Questions that arise when trying to deal with this problem are: (1) Should we attempt to prevent or inhibit the invasion of alien or exotic species? (2) What methods can be used to prevent those invasions? and (3) Who should decide about these kinds of actions especially when a fast response is needed?
BIOSPHERE RESERVES AND NATURAL CONDITIONS IN CENTRAL EUROPEAN BORDER REGIONS
The nine papers in Section 3 provide important information on four transboundary biosphere reserves in Central Europe and on the natural conditions in south-eastern Poland. These case studies help ground the previous discussions of biodiversity conservation and include valuable background information for the papers in the second half of this volume.
During the workshop, the presentation of these case studies was accompanied by a discussion on "Science for Parks and Parks for Science." The value of information gained through scientific investigation for the management and protection of national parks has long been recognized—Science for Parks. Science for parks encompasses two types of research: research to characterize and gain understanding of park resources and research to develop and implement effective management practices. It has been only in recent years that the value of national parks and other protected areas for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of natural processes has been widely understood—Parks for Science. Parks for science is important for three purposes: to determine what resources are present in order to protect them, manage them, and detect changes in them; to understand the natural dynamics and processes of populations, ecosystems, and other park resources; and to assess the effects of specific threats and to devise and evaluate management practices. The establishment of a strong Parks for Science program, therefore, should strengthen, not diminish, the importance of management oriented research.
WILDLIFE AND TOURIST MANAGEMENT IN TRANSBOUNDARY RESERVES
The twin problems of managing animals and people are the focus of the fourth section. Wildlife management in Poland and the United States has focused traditionally on restoration, exploitation, and maintenance of viable populations of large vertebrates. Such management has involved human manipulation of populations and habitat, and it has emphasized "game" species almost exclusively. However, as the role of the wildlife manager in both countries has expanded to include the extant variety of terrestrial and aquatic fauna, our conceptualization of wildlife needs to be as inclusive as possible (e.g., all invertebrate and vertebrate life forms).
Classification and characteristics of protected areas in Poland and the United States differ. National parks in the United States are typically large, have no particular management relationship to surrounding land, and are protected from consumptive uses. U.S. parks are areas of "set aside in perpetuity" to protect unique geological, floral, and/or faunal features, and in which traditional wildlife management typically was not practiced. Polish parks, often called core areas, are protected from consumptive uses, but in contrast to U.S. parks, they are small and
surrounded by larger transition and buffer zones of protection that can be managed for consumptive purposes. Forested ecosystems are of primary concern to park managers in Poland, and because of the consumptive uses around national parks, managers have to be directly concerned with elements of wildlife management, particularly for harvestable species, such as red deer (Cervus elaphus), and ungulates of international concern, such as the rare European bison (Bison bonasus).
General impacts of high-density populations of ungulates on other fauna and flora are outlined in these papers. Common themes and questions include: (1) Are ungulate densities too high and should they be reduced? (2) Polish national parks or core areas of strict protection are too small to adequately conserve large mammals, including large predators such as wolf (Canis lupus); (3) Park boundaries are typically political and have little correlation to animal movements and habits; (4) The practice of feeding large mammals, although traditional throughout Europe, is ill-advised and artificially increases local carrying capacity; and (5) Land use practices outside national parks (e.g., logging) can have a pronounced effect on large mammals. Conflicts between traditional forest management, including the harvest of both timber and wildlife, and nature protection, specifically conservation of biological diversity, are increasing in both countries.
There was agreement that more research is needed to evaluate effects of high-density ungulates on biodiversity. While considerable data exist on effects to flora, very little information is available on effects to sympatric fauna. There is an urgent need in transboundary protected areas in Poland to coordinate research efforts and unify research protocols and methodologies. Some panelists contended that human exploitation, primarily logging in transition and buffer zones surrounding national parks in Poland, was excessive and a deterrent to conservation of biodiversity. Others contended that enhanced wildlife management in transition and buffer zones is needed because of the potential economic gains to local communities; for example, $2.5 million (U.S.) was generated last year through the sale of hunting licenses in the area of Bieszczady National Park and Biosphere Reserve. Everyone agreed that national parks, whether small or large, cannot be conserved in isolation; they are directly affected by activities outside their boundaries.
Two resolutions related to wildlife management were presented and discussed, although they were not formally adopted by panel participants. First, core units of Polish protected areas (i.e., national parks) are too small to conserve viable populations of large mammals, particularly large carnivores. For example, the strictly protected forest in Bialowieza National Park is only 47 km2, and the exploited forest is over 550 km2. Second, there is a need for fundamental change among forest managers on issues of biodiversity; currently, emphasis in Poland is narrowly focused on exploitation of wood fiber.
The papers on managing wildlife are followed by three on managing people. The paper by Dr. Gregorz Rakowski examines the potential effects of increased
tourism in the cross-border protected areas in eastern Poland. While recognizing mass tourism could cause a serious damage to the nature in the protected areas (some of which is detailed in the paper by Dr. Marek Peska), proper management could reduce the possible negative impacts. The development of various forms of eco- and agrotourism in these areas should be promoted. The nature and landscape values of Poland's border regions as well as the geographical situation of the country are the good basis for international ecotourism development. Eco- and agrotourism development could be a chance to improve the economic situation of local communities, although the increase of ecological education and financial support for local communities would be needed for these plans to succeed. Dr. Thomas Heberlein approaches tourism from a different perspective. In order to better understand the needs and behavior of park visitors as well as local communities, he advocates that they should be studied like other wildlife. Effective management of tourists requires knowledge based on scientific procedures, including observation and surveys in conjunction with representative sampling and experimental design.
MONITORING AND MEASURING THE DIVERSITY OF LIFE IN BORDER AREAS
As all ecosystems are affected to varying degrees by anthropogenic physical and chemical stresses, assessing their overall effect on biological diversity and ecosystem processes necessarily requires monitoring over a network of sites distributed throughout the range of the effects. In addition to documenting the diversity of life in these border areas, the papers in section five illustrate the variety of monitoring programs
All of the monitoring programs addressed here concentrate on biological diversity, and the participants strongly recommend that biodiversity monitoring be a cornerstone of any environmental information network. However, no single monitoring strategy can effectively provide all of the important scientific and management information that is needed to address biodiversity issues at a single reserve, much less over an international landscape. In practice, different programs choose quite different monitoring designs depending upon the processes of most importance to their designers. Sampling on a grid provides an unbiased sample with even spatial coverage (i.e., efficient mapping), but with relatively limited effectiveness in detecting rare species. For example, a decade of intensive grid sampling at the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park (a Biosphere Reserve in the United States) has only detected two thirds of the plant species known to be in the park, partially because the grid points, by chance, have not yet intersected wetlands and other limited habitat types. A stratified design samples each habitat type with more equal effort. This is efficient in producing statistically interpretable estimates of the density of rare species, but is subject to anomalies due to oversampling rare habitat types relative to their frequency and by the need to stratify into somewhat arbitrary categories. For broad scale changes (e.g., climatic warming), spatial shifts
along a gradient may be more consistent and predictable responses to stress than are local changes in species abundance.
Intuitive searching by an experienced systematist or naturalist consistently detects more rare species than the other methods, but at the expense of unrepeatability (precluding its sole use for monitoring), biased samples, and unknowable sampling properties. This is the approach in Dr. Bohdan Prots' study of the flora of the Ukrainian Carpathians. The wide scale of the investigation permits historical and geographic explanations of biodiversity patterns. For example, one clear contributor to the high diversity of the study sites is that they lie at the boundary of distinct biogeographic regions. Wide taxonomic coverage revealed abnormal structures associated with stress responses that would probably have been missed in a single-species investigation. Naturally, detections from searching cannot be unbiased with respect to landscape feature as a whole, leading to the strongest inferences for historical biogeography, and limited capabilities to detect ecological and population changes.
In some case, the impact on a "indicator" species may be chosen as a surrogate for correlated effects in the environment. An indicator could be of concern because it is already especially rare, known to be sensitive to a particular stress, or "charismatic". If policy is to be formulated on the basis of a single species, a high priority is to understand, on a mechanistic basis, the behavior and population dynamics of that species. Dr. Milan Kodrik's report on an experimental analysis addressed primarily toward a single stress—atmospheric deposition—and its effects on a single species closely approximates an indicator study. The analysis starts with soil chemistry, continues through its effects on root growth, and proceeds to the effects on tree demography and forest canopy structure. With a single major stress, it is practical to investigate ecologically realistic experimental field plots and to calibrate the stress effects to size and age. As a result, the indicator study developed confidence in population projections that are difficult in a community-level study and impossible with a biogeographic survey. However the combination of labor intensity and ability to conduct such large-scale consumptive sampling makes this study essentially unreplicable, and the results will certainly be used to estimate root relations far outside the original study site.
Dr. Reginald Noble reported on a probability based regional forest health monitoring approach that is being implemented in the United States. This approach employs an interpenetrating design that utilizes a grid system from which sites may be randomly selected for monitoring a variety of indicators. These indicators range from crown condition and foliar chemistry to root pathology and soils characterization. This protocol, though it does not conform to any of the models described above, incorporates features of each. With U.S. assistance, this model has been recently undertaken in the Baltic Republics and discussions are now underway for expanding the region to include Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine.
This range of strategies illustrates the dilemma faced in coordinating monitoring programs. If different parameters are measured, or if the data differ greatly in their reliability or completeness, statistical comparisons of ecological
impacts becomes nearly impossible. However, if all programs only follow specified protocols, both opportunities to address severe localized problems and scientific innovation may be preempted. As monitoring programs will, and should, continue to be somewhat idiosyncratic in order to best address the most important local information needs, coordination may be stimulated by the improvements in information technology. Dr. James Quinn reported on Euro MAB's Biosphere Reserve Inventory and Monitoring (BRIM) program, which is designed to facilitate standardization and communication of biodiversity and other environmental information among Biosphere Reserves. The initiative has already produced a database of sites, facilities, scientific contacts, and available data types (ACCESS) and is working on an annotated directory of permanent vegetation plots. The MAB Fauna and MAB Flora databases are designed to speed and standardize the reporting of species occurrences in reserves, and has already been extensively tested in Central Europe.
Cross-boundary data are not useful for landscape analyses unless they are easily accessible to the widely separated investigators. Biodiversity data for about 20 Central European Biosphere Reserves is now disseminated over Internet. Newly available environmental information now permits more efficient and reliable habitat characterizations. Locations can be determined and mapped from downloaded remote-sensing imagery, and it has become much more practical to describe sites according to site-specific environmental attributes rather than artificial classifications. This will, for example, allow investigators to characterize vegetation post hoc, in the way most appropriate for a particular analysis, as an alternative to having to live with one of many competing classification schemes applied a priori. High resolution mapped attributes allow robust spatial statistics, allowing predicted biodiversity (or other) patterns to be described probabilistically with known confidence limits rather than stated categorically. While using these tools in Biosphere Reserves will require training and infrastructural support, it also opens the way to effective international monitoring in a way not previously possible.