Cork oak (Quercus suber
) is a declining woodland species across the island of Sardinia, despite its former economic importance for wine production and its significance for biodiversity. In particular, cork oak forests (COFs) on the island have seen a 29% decrease in the past 45 years. A spatial GIS model was developed to determine suitability for the expansion of cork oak forests on the island. The model uses a set of simple spatial decision rules based on principles of landscape ecology and expert opinion to assign a suitability score for pure cork oak forests to every land use parcel in Sardinia. These rules include the type of existing land parcel, its size, distance to existing cork oak forest, and the area of seminatural habitats in its neighborhood. This was coupled with a map of landscape types to assist with the development of policy for the protection of cork oak forests across Sardinia. The results show that there is an area of 116,785 ha potentially suitable for cork oak forest expansion in Sardinia, with the largest area of potential habitat on granitic mountains. There is a substantial overall agreement (Cohen’s kappa = 0.61) between the suitability map produced and the historical reference map. The model is flexible and can be rerun to reflect changes in policy relating to agri-environmental targets for habitats and species.
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