The aim of this study is to define a methodological framework that allows the Natura 2000 network to be integrated with the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN). The proposed methodology is based on phytosociological analyses, as these analyses led to the definition of the habitats of Directive 92/43/EEC and determined the choice of the Natura 2000 sites. At the landscape level, the methodology is integrated with geosynphytosociological analyses and with analyses that are currently in use in landscape ecology as these were used in the spatial schematization of the PEEN. The aim is thus to spatialize the elements of the network, to extend its meaning not only to biological features but also to landscape planning and management. The central nodes of the network (core areas and buffer zones) are defined on the basis of areas where there is a higher density of the habitats of the Directive. These areas were identified using the kernel method which estimates the density distribution across the territory obtaining a cumulative density surface in all of the points in space. The ecological corridors are identified according to the distribution of the plant communities and of the spread elements of the agricultural landscape. The polygons obtained merging different vegetation patches that are spatially continuous were classified according to their sizes and indirectly to their degree of internal spatial connection. As a case study, this methodology is applied in the province of Ancona (central Italy).
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