A comparison of the ecological quality of land between an English agri-environment scheme and the countryside as a whole

Carey, P.D.; Barnett, C.L; Greenslade, P.D.; Hulmes, S.; Garbutt, R.A.; Warman, E.A.; Myhill, D.; Scott, R.J.; Smart, S.M; Manchester, S.J.; Robinson, J.; Walker, K.J.; Howard, D.C; Firbank, L.G.. 2002 A comparison of the ecological quality of land between an English agri-environment scheme and the countryside as a whole. Biological Conservation, 108 (2). 183-197.

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A survey of 451 Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) agreements was carried out across England in 1998–1999 to characterise the ecological quality of the land. The land within the agreements was mapped using the UK Biodiversity Action Plan Broad and Priority Habitats and the vegetation of the agreements was sampled using random quadrats. By far the most widespread Broad Habitat was Improved Grassland, accounting for around 50% of all agreement land. Of this, the majority was semi-improved. Priority Habitats accounted for 15% of all agreement land (equivalent to around 18,500 ha). In addition to the 15%, there was also land within habitat mosaics containing one or more Priority Habitat. The analysis of vegetation revealed that 53% of all randomlyplaced quadrats were categorised as Infertile Grassland and 24% as Fertile Grassland. Survey data were compared with results from the Countryside Survey 2000, a national assessment of vegetation undertaken in 1998. In the lowland areas of England, CSS land had a much higher proportion of grassland habitats and was much more likely to be typical of low fertility situations than the countryside as a whole. In the marginal uplands and uplands, CSS agreement land contained a greater proportion of grassland, but with a reduced proportion of important upland Broad Habitats, such as Dwarf Shrub Heath and Bog, although these do tend to be found more in the Environmentally Sensitive Areas. The differences between the CSS and the countryside as a whole clearly reflect the priorities of the CSS, especially the high proportion of grassland. The CSS has targeted Broad and Priority Habitats and in this respect has been successful.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Other
CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Ecological Processes & Modelling
_ Ecosystem Assessment & Forecasting
_ Environmental Chemistry & Pollution
ISSN: 0006-3207
Additional Keywords: radioecology, agri-environment schemes, habitats, baseline, national survey
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 14 Feb 2013 13:50 +0 (UTC)

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