Eurasian Kurgan Database – a citizen science tool for conserving grasslands on historical sites

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Abstract

Eurasian steppes have an essential role in conserving biodiversity, but due to the huge habitat loss in the past centuries they are often preserved only in small refuges. Among such refuges are the ancient steppic burial mounds (the so called ‘kurgans’) which have a high cultural and historical importance and are also essential sites of nature conservation. Despite their high number (approximately half million) and conservational importance there is a huge lack of knowledge on the locality and conservational state of the kurgans in most regions of Eurasia. To fill this knowledge gap, we built a public database which allows to record and query basic information on their cultural values and factors (such as land cover type, threatening factors, cover of woody species) that might serve as a basis for their effective conservation. The database provides a transparent, public and easy-to-use source for conservation managers and landscape planners focussed on grassland conservation. In addition, it also provides background information for other associate disciplines and public agencies dealing with the protection of cultural heritage.

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