Assessment of the potential risk of rock-climbing for cliff plant species and natural protected areas of Spain

  • In recent years, the popularity of rock-climbing has grown tremendously, setting an increasing pressure on cliff habitats. Climbing may be particularly harmful in the Mediterranean biome due to its appropriate environmental conditions for climbing. A few studies have identified the effect of climbing on plant diversity at a small-scale (namely locally or even just in specific climbing areas). However, no studies exist assessing the potential risk of rock-climbing on a broad-scale (e.g., regional or national). The study aims to identify the priority locations and priority cliff plant species in Spain to focus future study efforts. Spain was selected because it is a plant biodiversity hotspot, with a great diversity of endemic and endangered species, and one of the most popular destinations for climbers. We used a geographic information system-based approach to model the spatial concurrence among Spanish climbing areas (and climbing intensity), natural protected areas (NPAs), and distribution of threatened cliff plants (and their IUCN threat category). We found that 53.5% of climbing areas in Spain are located within a NPA, most of them falling into NPAs of medium protection level. We mapped 151 threatened cliff plants, identifying four medium priority Mediterranean locations and eight priority species in which future research efforts should be focused. High-priority study locations are absent in Spain according to our spatial modeling. For the first time on a national scale, this study identifies areas in which climbing represents a potential threat for cliff habitats and threatened plants. These findings contribute to designing field studies on the effects of rock-climbing on Mediterranean cliffs, laying the groundwork for a sustainable, yet challenging, balance between the protection of these unique habitats and rock-climbing.
Author:Indradatta de Castro-Arrazola, Martí March-SalasORCiD, Juan Lorite
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publisher:Frontiers Media
Place of publication:Lausanne
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/04/22
Date of first Publication:2021/04/22
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/09/28
Tag:IUCN protection categories; Mediterranean plants; biodiversity conservation; priority natural areas; rock-climbing impact; spatial analysis; threatened cliff plant species
Issue:art. 611362
Page Number:9
First Page:1
Last Page:9
We thank the National Geographic Society (Grant Numbers EC-50532R-18 and NGS-82734R-20), American Alpine Club (AAC), and Asociación Española de Ecología Terrestre (AEET) for supporting the studies that gave rise to this work. Project B1-RNM-163- UGR18-Programa Operativo FEDER, 2018, partially funded this research.
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 333 Boden- und Energiewirtschaft / 333.7 Natürliche Ressourcen, Energie und Umwelt
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0