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In Portugal, the Ecological Network (EN) was included in the Portuguese legal system in 1999 according to which it must be considered, delineated and implemented in all landscape plans at all spatial scales. Despite of all EU policies, in Portugal the EN is defined by the set of areas, values and key systems for environmental protection (article 14th of the Decree Law n. º 46/2009). Furthermore, at national level there is only the Program for National Planning Policy, which doesn’t include any EN delimitation.

This paper presents a methodology for the delineation of the National Ecological Network (NEN) based on: a) the physical sub-system which refers to physical components and their interactions; b) biological sub-system composed by habitats and flora; c) the network concept which is based on the vertical and horizontal connection of structures and information within the ecological system (Jongman, 1995; Magalhães, 2001). Moreover, the main notion of EN is to link ecosystems into a spatially coherent system through which materials and organisms flow (Opdam et al., 2006), as reflected in the Landscape-System methodology (Magalhães et al., 2007).

The Portuguese ecological networks, at different scales, has been developed according with the theoretical research and actual field of studies carried out by the Landscape Architecture Research Centre (CEAP/ISA/TUL) since the beginning of the 90s, and is closely related to the ecological landscape planning methods and policies adopted in European countries. The CEAP/ISA/TUL is developing a research project, funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology’s, aiming the proposal of a methodology for mapping and policies implementation for the NEN (Project reference: FCT-PTDC/AUR-URB/102578/2008).

The main goal of this paper is to present the NEN methodology as a component of the Landscape-System methodology (Magalhães et al., 2007) whose objectives are the maintenance, restoration or enhancement of nature conservation and biodiversity within a coherent system, safeguarding ecological and cultural values, complemented with potential multiple uses and respective evolution tendencies.

This study will focus on the NEN and will compare it with the regional and local case studies at scales 1/100.000 and 1/25.000 respectively.



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