Larch - assessing fragmentation and spatial cohesion of habitats

  • How well do nature areas potentially preserve biodiversity? 
  • Where are important biodiversity hotspots located?
  • Where are landscapes too fragmented to preserve biodiversity?
  • What is the effect of measures on biodiversity?

LARCH is an ecological model to assess the sustainability of ecological networks for species. Well-functioning ecological habitat networks are the basis for the conservation of protected (plants and/or animals) species. Suitability for local populations  is determined using species-specific area requirements. LARCH calculates a measure for spatial cohesion that is used to estimate the sustainability of ecological networks  and to evaluate the connections between scattered  habitat areas. Implementation of barrier effects (e.g. roads, rivers) blocking the dispersal of individuals and resistance of the landscape (e.g. agricultural areas that are difficult to cross) are optional in the analysis.

The model is widely used at multiple spatial scales by a.o.: Dutch ministries, Dutch provinces, the Caribbean Netherlands and European/International institutions: EEA, DG-ENV, OECD SWAC.

When would I choose this tool?

Habitat loss, including degradation and fragmentation, is the most important cause of biodiversity loss globally. Natural habitats in most parts of the world continue to decline in extent and integrity. Reducing the rate of habitat loss and fragmentation, and eventually halting it, is essential to protect biodiversity and to maintain the ecosystem services vital to human wellbeing (Aichi Targets).