This page provides links to documents and maps that should assist the Shropshire Biodiversity Partnership define where the greatest opportunities for biodiversity lie in Shropshire.
Previous efforts to map where the biodiversity opportunities for Shropshire (and elsewhere in the former Region) include the production of Biodiversity Enhancement Areas, Woodland Opportunity Maps, and the Landscapes for Living project (LfL). More recently we have developed our Priority Areas for Action. Information gathered for the Priority Areas for Action have helped in the development of bids for Landscape Partnership Scheme funds (a strand of Heritage Lottery funding). Two such Landscape Partnership Schemes are currently ongoing - Meres and Mosses of the Marches and Stiperstones to Corndon.
The most recent initiative on landscape scale work is the development of Nature Improvement Areas (NIA). This stems from a recommendation in the 'Lawton report' - "Making Space for Nature". The Shropshire Wildlife Trust are leading on bid for funds to establish a Meres and Mosses NIA. The bid is through to the second round and we should hear the results in early 2012.
In Shropshire (and elsewhere) lack of accurate habitat data has meant that opportunity mapping that is based on habitats leads to flawed maps. Without a full county habitat survey there's not much we can do in terms of addressing this issue. What we do have is pretty comprehensive species records for plants and birds.
We have already used axiophytes (plant indicators of good quality habitat) to highlight areas where woodland planting might be beneficial and where it might be problematic (the biodiversity theme of the Woodland Opportunity Map).
I have provided a link below to the a biodiversity map using axiophytes (plants indicative of high quality habitat). This map is based (roughly speaking) on the number of axiophytes found in each Landscape Description Unit (LDU) per unit area (to avoid the large LDUs scoring the highest). The result is a map that broadly compares to the LfL map but highlights rather better the importance of the Meres and Mosses, the Oswestry Uplands, and Wenlock Edge for example.
If we are to cover the full range of biodiversity, one failing of this map - and the LfL maps - is that other species groups may be poorly represented. Sites of high interest for invertebrates, birds, or lower plants for example may be under valued. Fenn's and Whixall for example currently scores poorly due to the greater proportion of other interest groups such as bryophytes and invertebrates. This will be remedied in future by the inclusion of bryophytes in the long list (380 species) of axiophytes and perhaps also the inclusion of invertebrate habitat indicators.
There are many uses of these biodiversity opportunity maps including:
- Development of bids for landscape scale action for bidoiversty - as has already been evidenced.
- Inclusion of the maps in the Local Development Framework, including Supplementary Planning Documents, ensuring planners consider land outside formally designated sites and networks between sites.
- It could help target further survey work - some areas are under-recorded for both species and habitat data
- It could be used by government agencies to inform decisions on land use change and agri-environment funding
- The maps could be used as an evidence base to develop strategies for adaptation to / mitigation of climate change
- We could use the map as a base-line against which some changes in biodiversity can be measured - data could be time-sliced.
A list of relevant documents is provided below:
Landscapes for Living:
Sub-regional maps based on plant indicator species (axiophytes)
- Topographical variability of LDUs (based on density of contour lines and perhaps partly indicative of climate change resilience)
- Farmland Bird mapping from NE web site - Select 'Targeting and Planning Map' then the 'Farmland Birds' tab from the top of the map. All from www.natureonthemap.org.uk
Landscapes for living maps
The draft information tables which accompany these maps can be found here