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Suffolk Ecological Network Project

http://www.suffolkbis.org.uk

produce a dynamic toolkit which can be used as a spatial database of local opportunities for connecting and enhancing designated and other sites

Martin Sanford


National Planning Policy Framework Feb 2019 • Identify, map and safeguard components of local wildlife-rich habitats and wider ecological networks, including the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity; wildlife corridors and stepping stones that connect them; and areas identified by national and local partnerships for habitat management, enhancement, restoration or creation;

• Promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species; and identify and pursue opportunities for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity.


Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network Lawton et al. 2010


(i) Core areas Making Space for Nature: Core areas provide places within which species A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network Lawton et al. 2010 can thrive and from which they can disperse to other parts of the network. They include protected wildlife sites and other semi-natural areas of high ecological quality. (ii) Corridors and ‘stepping stones’ These are spaces that improve the functional connectivity between core areas, enabling species to move between them to feed, disperse, migrate or reproduce. (iii) Restoration areas These are areas where measures are planned to restore or create new high value areas (iv) Buffer zones These are areas that closely surround core areas, restoration areas, ‘stepping stones’ and ecological corridors, and protect them from adverse impacts from the wider environment. (v) Sustainable use areas – ‘softening the matrix’ These are areas within the wider landscape focussed on the sustainable use of natural resources and appropriate economic activities, together with the maintenance of ecosystem services


We will ensure that we support development and the environment by embedding the principle that new development should result in net environmental gain We will support farmers to turn over fields to meadows rich in herbs and wildflowers, plant more trees, restore habitats for endangered species, recover soil fertility and attract wildlife back We will ensure broader landscapes are transformed by connecting habitats into larger corridors for wildlife, as recommended by Sir John Lawton in his official review. • Creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside the protected site network, focusing on priority habitats as part of a wider set of land management changes providing extensive benefits. • Taking action to recover threatened, iconic or economically important species of animals, plants and fungi6 , and where possible to prevent human-induced extinction or loss of known threatened species in England and the Overseas Territories. • Increasing woodland in England in line with our aspiration of 12% cover by 2060: this would involve planting 180,000 hectares by end of 2042


The Environment Act CIEEM feedback will any ensure thatRecovery we support development and the environment Of We course Nature Network Map that is produced will need that new development should result in to by be embedding underpinnedthe byprinciple a powerful and progressive Environment Act to net environmental ensure it has clout. gain WeWe arewill asking that farmers the Environment Actfields should support to turn over toinclude: meadows rich in herbs •A and common framework for mapping (something we can produce) wildflowers, plant more trees, restore habitats forhelp endangered •A species, duty on Local Authorities to and produce/publish maps recover soil fertility attract wildlife back(something we can support) •A We dutywill onensure public bodies develop maps (something us other broadertolandscapes are transformed byand connecting partners caninto deliver) habitats larger corridors for wildlife, as recommended by Sir a Nature Recovery Network needs to be based on good data, and to John Lawton in his officialMap review. include: Creating 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich •A •central coreor of restoring what already exists and is restorable – i.e.,habitat a map of theLocal protected site network, focusing on priority habitats natureoutside reserves, (and County) Wildlife Sites, SSSIs, National Nature as part Reserves etc. of a wider set of land management changes providing extensive benefits. •Where the most effective areas to create an ecological network are • Taking action and to recover threatened, iconic or economically •Where we should shouldn’t create new habitat important species of animals, plants and fungi6 , and where possible to prevent human-induced extinction or loss of known threatened species in England and the Overseas Territories. • Increasing woodland in England in line with our aspiration of 12% cover by 2060: this would involve planting 180,000 hectares by end of 2042


Ecological networks are ‘…A coherent system of natural and / or semi-natural landscape elements that is configured and managed with the objective of maintaining or restoring ecological functions as a means to conserve biodiversity…’ The ecological network is the basic infrastructure that will enable biodiversity assets to recover from deficit and become resilient to climate change impacts, and thus deliver ecosystem services which are of social and economic value. Maintaining and improving habitat connectivity is important in ensuring the long-term survival of biodiversity in a fragmented landscape and with a changing climate. Ecological network models represent the basic, joined up infrastructure of existing and future habitat needed to allow populations of species and habitats to survive in fluctuating conditions. As a short-term benefit, a landscape that species can move through easily allows recolonisation of areas after disturbance events, preventing local extinctions.

In the long term, as our climate continues to change, well connected habitats offer opportunities for populations to move in response to changing conditions. The movement of individuals between populations in a connected landscape maintains genetic diversity which allows populations to adapt to future changes in environmental conditions.


The networks were created using the BEETLE least-cost network model (Biological and Environmental Evaluation Tools for Landscape Ecology - Watts et al, 2010) with the parameters of the model based on the requirements of Somerset Priority Species for the minimum area needed to maintain a healthy population and typical dispersal distances. • BEETLE is a GIS tool that models ecological networks extending from core areas of habitat. The extent of the network is governed by a set of parameters which are the characteristics of a hypothetical species known as a “generic focal species”. • Landscape permeability in the model, or the degree to which the habitats in the surrounding landscape facilitate or impede movement, is incorporated through the use of a least-cost distance function. This function reduces the maximum dispersal distance of the model species according to the permeability of the surrounding landscape.


The networks were created using the BEETLE least-cost network model (Biological and Environmental Evaluation Tools for Landscape Ecology - Watts et al, 2010) with the parameters of the model based on the requirements of Somerset Priority Species for the minimum area needed to maintain a healthy population and typical dispersal distances. • BEETLE is a GIS tool that models ecological networks extending from core areas of habitat. The extent of the network is governed by a set of parameters which are the characteristics of a hypothetical species known as a “generic focal species”. • Landscape permeability in the model, or the degree to which the habitats in the surrounding landscape facilitate or impede movement, is incorporated through the use of a least-cost distance function. This function reduces the maximum dispersal distance of the model species according to the permeability of the surrounding landscape.


The networks were created using the BEETLE least-cost network model (Biological and Environmental Evaluation Tools for Landscape Ecology - Watts et al, 2010) with the parameters of the model based on the requirements of Somerset Priority Species for the minimum area needed to maintain a healthy population and typical dispersal distances. • BEETLE is a GIS tool that models ecological networks extending from core areas of habitat. The extent of the network is governed by a set of parameters which are the characteristics of a hypothetical species known as a “generic focal species”. • Landscape permeability in the model, or the degree to which the habitats in the surrounding landscape facilitate or impede movement, is incorporated through the use of a least-cost distance function. This function reduces the maximum dispersal distance of the model species according to the permeability of the surrounding landscape.


http://www.norfolkbiodiversity.org/ecological-networks/


Nonetheless, taking account of recent comprehensive biodiversity cost-estimates derived by other studies, and including current expenditure, we estimate that the total annual costs of establishing a coherent and resilient network will be in the range of ÂŁ600 million to ÂŁ1.1 billion. Lawton Report 2010


Tools to show:

What is there What could be there What should be there

Review current methodologies Data requirements Data Sources Partnership Modelling Outputs and uses Delivery mechanisms • Publish dynamic toolkit rather than hard copy report. Make it practical! Continually update, scalable from county level to individual fields. • Show links between woodlands, pond, orchards, RNRs etc • Info for enhancing designated sites to connect them and make them resilient. (Follow Lawton principle - bigger, better, joined) • Potential for offsite mitigation—Biodiversity Net Gain. This gives local options without need for the Land Bank. • Build a register of local opportunities


The NBCCVM methodology uses a GIS-based 200 x 200m grid to assess areas of priority habitat for their:

• Intrinsic Sensitivity to Climate Change; the model assigns high, medium or low sensitivity to direct climate change impacts – reflecting the habitat itself on the basis of expert judgement and scientific literature.

• Adaptive capacity; a range of different local factors can increase or decrease the ability of the habitat to adapt to climate change – to reflect this the model includes measures of fragmentation, topographic variation and management and condition.

• Conservation Value; this assigns a relative value to (i) priority habitat only, (ii) priority habitat within a national designation, or (iii) priority habitat within an international designation – with the latter valued highest. These elements are then added together to produce an overall assessment of vulnerability. Key outputs are maps showing the results for individual and combined metrics and the range of relative vulnerability across the country, giving a visual representation of the areas vulnerable to climate change.


The three colours represent the high, medium and low classifications for relative sensitivity of habitats to direct impacts from climate change. This will help to identify areas that are particularly sensitive to climate change impact. The sensitivity of some coastal habitats and wetlands along water courses is clear.


The range of colours represent the range of fragmentation of habitats, showing the results for the most vulnerable habitat overall in that cell. This illustrates the structural nature of the assessment used in this metric and broadly shows that more seminatural habitat in consecutive cells leads to less fragmented habitats. For example the larger contiguous areas of priority habitat in Salisbury Plain and the New Forest are highlighted as being of low fragmentation.


This highlights the squares that exist within a relatively ‘impermeable’ Land Cover Matrix, suggesting that actions could be carried out to increase the connectivity across the Land Cover Matrix.


Who might use it? • Environmental Land Management • Neighbourhood Plans • Local Structure Plans • Recreational Disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategies RAMS, Biodiversity Net Gain • District Level Licensing • Nature Recovery Network How will it be used? How will it be kept up-to-date?


Sustainability Appraisal (SA) for the West Suffolk Local Plan Scoping Report West Suffolk District Council October 2019

future growth can also provide opportunities to better integrate biodiversity habitats and networks into new development at a strategic scale. Therefore, new development could potentially unlock opportunities to protect and enhance important habitats and enhance the connections between them, particularly through the provision and enhancement of green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure is a network of multifunctional green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities. Local Plans should identify the strategic location of existing and proposed green infrastructure networks. Where appropriate, supplementary planning documents can set out how the planning, design and management components of the green infrastructure strategy for the area will be delivered.


While the concept of resilient ecological networks has attracted scientific and political support, to date there is no consensus on what a resilient network would look like, or how it would be assessed.


Profile for Suffolk Naturalists' Society

Suffolk Ecological Network Project - Martin Sanford SBIS  

Suffolk Ecological Network Project - Martin Sanford SBIS  

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