Summary & Outcomes
The aim of this research project was to identify existing high value habitat networks and prioritise their extension and enlargement through more permeable (i.e. semi-natural) land use. Landscape permeability is a measure of how easily an individual species can move through a landscape, so a hedgerow providing cover for mammals to move unseen by predators will have a higher permeability that a newly sown arable field. The implementation phase was planned to be delivered through the Wild Purbeck Land Managers Advisory Service.
During the first year, Environmental Systems were contracted to carry out a mapping project, culminating in the production of a report “Mapping landscape permeability within WPNIA to prioritise areas for targeted habitat creation and protection”. Remote sensing was used to map different vegetation types and identify and map current land cover. This was analysed to assess the permeability of each habitat. Maps were produced which identified “core” areas of semi-natural habitat, plus potential areas, including buffer zones around core areas. Potential locations for new habitats were also identified.
The data from the first stage was then used to pro-actively target holdings with advice on landscape restoration and creation. It was used to look for new opportunities and to compare with habitat restoration under way in HLS agreements. Opportunities for restoration / habitat creation were identified within the two landscape character areas covered by the Perenco section 106 agreement funding.
Highlights and challenges
The analysis work revealed that HLS agreements have already taken many of the opportunities highlighted by the layer for grassland restoration and creation where it is practical to do so. Habitats such as woodland are less well advanced, but more difficult to implement as they require significant investment and can be in conflict with open habitats.
Work will continue around using the permeability maps in conjunction with landowners. When the Perenco section 106 funding is available, there may be opportunities to implement restoration in line with the opportunities identified by the project.