An assessment of gains in conservation: A case study in Sør-Trøndelag, Norway
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- Institutt for biologi 
SummaryForest ecosystems are important due to the services they are providing (e.g. food, timber, water and air clearance, etc.). This study investigated the change of forest habitat representation in the protected area network of Sør-Trøndelag county over time, using historical data and maps of Norway available (i.e. maps of bedrock, climatic bioregions, protected areas and AR5 map containing data on vegetation cover, bonitation, forest type). The role of protected areas in securing habitats and ecosystems increases with the need for resources, . Therefore, setting aside areas for conservation purpose is becoming essential in order to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services.This study showed a fluctuating increase in protected area of forest habitats. The importance of nature reserves (the most strictly regulated protection form), in forest habitat conservation was increasing over time and nowadays it includes the largest area of protected forests (even though the median size of a nature reserve is less than 1km2). Nature reserves also have the largest number of habitats (including the ones not protected by any other protection form). On the other hand the usually large national parks are considerably less important for forest habitats in this county than can be expected based on the total size. Even though nature reserves grasp much of the habitat diversity, other common protection forms (e.g. landscape protected areas and national parks) tend to be mutually complementary and complement the habitats. Landscape protected areas sometimes are established around nature reserves; this way they act as a buffer and transfer zone increasing protected area size and connectivity.This study found that coniferous forests are the most common forest type which bests represents habitats in the protected areas network (36.27% of all coniferous forest habitats) in Sør-Trøndelag. However, the area under the protection for coniferous forests has the smallest proportion (2.86% compared to 4.02% for mixed, 6.95% for deciduous forests and 4.54% for wetlands with forest cover). Since coniferous forests have large potential for economic exploitation, the study also investigated the pattern of bonitation distribution among different protection forms and forest types. the results showed that larger proportion of areas of low expoitational potential are included in the protected areas.