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Assessment of the conservation value of the Vlakte van de Raan Site of Community Interest
Degraer, S.; Hostens, K. (2016). Assessment of the conservation value of the Vlakte van de Raan Site of Community Interest. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Operational Directorate Natural Environment: Brussels. 16 pp.

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Abstract
    Based on the best available knowledge, the current study analysed the habitats’ and species’ conservation value for the specific delineated Vlakte van de Raan Site of Community Interest (SCI) in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS). The habitat types 1110 and 1170 and the species Phocoena phocoena and Alosa fallax were analysed for the 19km² Vlakte van de Raan SCI. These analyses are based on the criteria: representativeness, conservation status, recovery potential, surface area and conservation value. The Habitat type 1110 at the Vlakte van de Raan SCI turns out to be a mosaic of areas of poor and medium ecological value, interspersed with some elements of high ecological value (i.e. part of the Abra alba biotope). The combined surface area is negligible compared to the Vlaamse Banken SCI or the total surface of the BPNS, indicating a low conservation value. The ecological value of the Habitat type 1170 at the Vlakte van de Raan SCI scores very low, indicating no conservation value for this habitat type. For the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, the Vlakte van de Raan area shows the lowest densities found in Belgian waters, leading to the conclusion that the ecological value of the Vlakte van de Raan SCI for harbour porpoise is to be considered negligible.Twait shad Alosa fallax is known to occur within the Vlakte van de Raan SCI (data from 1 beam trawl sample in the area). However, taking into account the different scientific criteria, the ecological value of the Vlakte van de Raan SCI for A. fallax is to be considered anecdotal and its conservation value as negligible. Any conservation measure within the Vlakte van de Raan SCI will be ineffective for this migrating species. In conclusion, based on different criteria, the scientific analysis shows very poor to no nature conservation value for the habitat types and species for which the site was initially proposed, leading to the conclusion that the Vlakte van de Raan SCI has no value as a special area for conservation.

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