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Evaluating the effectiveness of Environmental Stewardship agreements for the conservation and enhancement of historic parklands and developing a method of prioritisation for funding - LM0428

Parklands are complex artificial ‘designed’ landscapes that are not only of historic significance but are also important in shaping landscape character, providing key habitats and opportunities for access and recreation. In many cases they are the product of several phases of design over several centuries and, like many other historic environment features, are vulnerable to changes in farming and silviculture practices. Work for the Agri Environment Schemes in England report (Natural England 2009), an evidence-based summary of our current state of knowledge for agri-environment schemes (AES), highlighted that AES funding has made a significant contribution to the restoration of historic parklands, to meeting UK BAP wood-pasture and parkland targets (Ecoscope, 2003) and to reducing ‘risk’ to nationally important parklands (English Heritage, 2009). However, we have very little quantitative data demonstrating our success in conserving this important feature (Dwyer & Kambites, 2005).

In Environmental Stewardship (ES), parkland restoration and maintenance projects tend to be of very high value - not only monetarily - they are also important flagships of ‘multi-objective outcomes’ with work usually making a significant contribution to historic, landscape, biodiversity, resource protection and access objectives. They also are likely to provide significant ecosystems services. Given this, we need to be able to base future ES priorities and targets for parklands on an informed approach, taking into account all objectives and enabling advisers to appraise and prioritise potential parkland projects at the outset, without incurring a significant financial commitment or taking a substantial amount of time.

In addition, existing reporting procedures for historic parklands do not allow Natural England (NE) to hold information on ES interventions other than at a broad feature level. It is therefore not currently possible to simply measure the success of parkland projects in achieving their aims or - in the case of Registered Parks and Gardens – to assess their contribution to delivering positive change against English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk.
The specific aims of this project are:
1. Using quantitative and qualitative methods,to consider the impact of ES on historic parkland restoration by identifying:
• Generically, what constitutes a successful intervention, and any specific ‘ingredients’ that are critical to this success
• Specifically, how the ‘success’ of ES interventions for parkland restoration can be measured individually and collectively, accounting for all aspects of these multi-objective interventions and in relation to their contribution to ecosystems services

2. Based on the outputs of Aim 1, to test and develop clear assessment criteria for future ES engagement in historic parkland restoration and maintenance in order to assist NE with
• prioritising parklands for action - nationally, regionally and locally
• determining ‘up front’ the key attributes for individual parklands which must form part of any agreement for them to be successful
• being responsive to the significance and multi-objective nature of individual historic parklands
3. To develop a system of recording multi and single objective outcomes from ES parkland agreements which can be aligned with the development of targets for ES delivery as well as providing output for use by State of the Environment reports, UK BAP Habitat Action Plan (Biodiversity 2020) and Heritage at Risk monitoring.

4. To develop a searchable online/Genesis enabled repository for enabling the retention and retrieval of all AES funded (current and earlier) parkland management plans, compatible with work currently being undertaken by the Garden History Society and English Heritage. This work should also incorporate:
• The capture of information from the parklands considered during the course of this evaluation
• The development of Policies and Protocols for the storage and retention of hard and electronic copies of Plans (including the most suitable location for hard copy Plans) and the addition of future Plans to the repository
• An estimate of the extent of work required to identify and add information from ES and ‘Classic’ – Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas - Schemes.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : ES and Historic Parklands Final Report   (26595k)
• TPS - Two Page Summary : LM0428 Parklands Two pg summary final   (531k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £41,878
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Cookson and Tickner
Environmental Stewardship