Indicating disturbance content and context for preserved areas
An accepted goal of conservation is to build a conservation network that is resilient to environmental change. The conceptual patch-corridor-matrix model views individual conservation areas as connected components of a regional network capable of sustaining metapopulations and biodiversity, and assessment of contextual conditions in the matrix surrounding conservation areas is necessary for planning. Context is often assessed in terms of fixed-width buffers surrounding conservation areas, but in practice, different locations within the same conservation area experience different contexts. We present an alternate approach for describing the landscape context of conservation areas, and we illustrate the approach by assessing vegetation disturbance measured by Landsat NDVI changes over a 4-year period for 51 conservation areas in the Apulia region of south Italy. Insights gained from a multi-scale assessment of disturbance, coupled with information about land use and habitat mosaics are necessary to understand the distinctive features of different preserved areas and thus, to formulate appropriate plans for a regional conservation network to maintain or enhance biodiversity in the region.