Finger on the pulse of priority species in Flanders
International and regional legislation requires regular reporting on the status of regionally or internationally important species for nature conservation and policy. In Flanders, 14 monitoring programs are already up and running, following 8 species groups: amphibians, breeding birds, waterbirds, diurnal and nocturnal butterflies, mammals, bats, fish and vascular plants. However, an analysis showed that the existing monitoring networks are far from monitoring all European Bird and Habitat Directive species and Flemish priority species.
For the 69 species that dropped out at the time, INBO, in collaboration with ANB and Natuurpunt Studie, started a new monitoring program in 2016: meetnetten.be. An important criterion for these new monitoring networks is applicability/feasibility by trained citizen scientists.
In a recent report (in English), we first give an overview of the existing monitoring networks in Flanders. Then we present the methodology we used to build scientifically based monitoring networks for the missing species.
We are now examining to what extent new monitoring techniques can be integrated into the monitoring networks for species that are difficult to monitor. These could include environmental DNA (eDNA) and other molecular identification methods (e.g. metabarcoding), automated species detection using cameras, pheromones, sniffer dogs, etc. The way we designed new monitoring schemes for policy-relevant species in Flanders can serve as an example for other countries and regions.
Dirk Maes, Toon Westra & Marc Pollet in cooperation with ANB and a number of INBO and Natuurpunt Studie species experts
Read more: Maes et al. (2023) Monitoring schemes for species of conservation concern in Flanders (northern Belgium). An overview of long-established schemes and the design of an additional monitoring scheme. Reports of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) 2023 (15). Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Brussels. https://doi.org/10.21436/inbor.93332112
Image above: The smooth snake is the only reptile monitored in the Monitoring Networks. (photo Yves Adams - Vildaphoto)