Ecological corridors – Lifelines for Ramat Hanadiv

Biological diversity is highly dependent on the quality, quantity, and spatial cohesion of natural areas. Fragmentation of natural habitats severely affects the abundance of species. A solution to this problem is the development of ecological networks, linking core areas of nature by means of corridors and small habitat patches. This report presents the results of an analysis of the ecological network for Ramat Hanadiv. We used the LARCH Landscape ecological model to assess, first, the long-term viability of the wildlife populations of Ramat Hanadiv, and secondly, to identify where the most important landscape connections or corridors are situated.
For this purpose, we have selected the following species which are indicative of Ramat Hanadiv, and may be affected by fragmentation; six mammal species, one bird species, one reptile, and one butterfly species. For these species, ecological information was collected and parameters required for modelling such as habitat preference, home range, and dispersal distance were derived where possible from existing Israeli literature. In some cases data from other areas or from the LARCH database was used. Parameters were adjusted for the local conditions based on expert input.
A land cover map was prepared in GIS based on a land-use map. This map combined with the vegetation map for Ramat Hanadiv, a forest cover map, and remote sensing data for the wider region, is considered of sufficient quality for species modelling.
Of the nine species initially selected, seven species provide meaningful results on the landscape scale, for these habitats. Analysis shows, that only three species are viable in Ramat Hanadiv alone and that almost all require some exchange with surrounding populations. The exchange with surrounding areas is therefore essential for biodiversity in Ramat Hanadiv. In particular, the large mammal species, Roe deer and Mountain gazelle, are vulnerable to fragmentation and are likely to disappear in the long term. However, almost all species will decrease as a result of the scenario of industrial development. 
Specific defragmentation measures are important for Roe deer and Mountain gazelle, but will benefit all other species as well. The best measure to improve viability will be to ensure that corridors eastward are maintained as these are the true ‘lifelines’ for Ramat Hanadiv. The best location for the corridor would be northeast of Ramat Hanadiv, through the industrial zone. Another possible corridor exists in regional plans along the Taninim River, but this possibility has not been studied in detail. This corridor would require further analysis and likely significantly more resources would be required considering the length of the corridor and the current land-use (a much wider corridor would be necessary if the length were to increase). As such, this possibility has not been assessed in this study. The width of the planned corridor (50 m) is insufficient for the important species as the corridor should be at least 100-150 metres wide. Also, the corridor requires that a safe and functional crossing of the main road is developed. This should still be addressed in greater detail.
Additional recommendations for Ramat Hanadiv include involvement of stakeholders in the planning process, development of the quarry, and specific measures to develop a ‘green business site’. Stakeholders are an essential part of a harmonised development plan. The quarry south of Ramat
Hanadiv can add crucial habitat, which can also support wetlands in the region. A green business site can support the environmental goals of Ramat Hanadiv. 


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