Since the introduction of the first Agri-environment (AE) schemes in England in 1987, DEFRA (formerly MAFF) has been committed to monitoring their performance in relation to the scheme objectives. Environmental monitoring programmes, most of which include a major botanical element, have been established in all English AE schemes. However, since 1987, UK policies for biodiversity and rural development have evolved, and there is now a requirement for DEFRA to report on the mperformance of AE schemes within a wider policy context.
The aim of this project is to make recommendations for the future botanical monitoring programme of AE schemes, scheduled to run from 2003 onwards. The project aims specifically to optimise the use of existing botanical samples and time series data, whilst also taking account of recent developments in botanical monitoring methods. This includes the emergence of Rapid Condition Assessment (RCA) as a means of allocating individual sites or features to a predetermined set of condition categories, using standardised procedures.