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What is the impact of AES on the quality of ecological connectivity? - LM04112

Landscape scale nature recovery is a key priority in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and agri-environment schemes (AES) are a key mechanism in delivering this. AES provide opportunities for habitat creation, maintenance and restoration, as well as softening the agricultural matrix to reduce barriers to species moving through the landscape. The role of AES in ecological connectivity has been explored in a number of previous projects, most recently LM04100 which assessed the extent to which AES options are located to improve ecological connectivity. Whilst LM04100 built on existing agri-environment monitoring and evaluation findings, one principle limitation was the lack of field measurements to inform the cost of species movement through different habitats, an underpinning assumption of the species connectivity modelling. This habitat quality is linked to one the key principles from the Making Space for Nature report; making sites better. The modelling which has been undertaken so far of AES contribution to ecological connectivity assumes that AES options are implemented fully according to prescriptions and therefore act to improve patch quality, and subsequently the connectivity of species across the landscape. Therefore, this project aims to assess the validity of this assumption, and the extent to which agri-environment schemes effect quality within ecological networks.
1. Revise the relationships between options, habitats and mobile species in terms of functional connectivity, building on the findings of previous projects LM04100 and LM0448.
2. Identify a suitable study area, focal species and construct a land cover spatial dataset.
3. Develop field survey protocols to assess habitat quality in relation to focal species connectivity and AES option implementation.
4. Test the connectivity modelling assumptions from LM04100 to identify methodological improvements.
5. Assess the effect of Facilitation Fund groups on focal species connectivity within the study area.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2020

To: 2021

Cost: £144,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environmental Impact              
Environmental Stewardship              
Farm Management              
Natural Environment - Ecosystem services              
Plants and Animals              
Wildlife Management