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An evaluation of factors inhibiting or masking the progress to favourable condition of lowland wetland SSSIs in AES. - LM04114

This project will help to answer the policy priority question around Agri-Environment Scheme (AES) impacts on SSSIs, and will complement the project investigating the impact of AES on upland heathland SSSIs (19/20). There is currently an evidence gap around impact of AES on fen, marsh and swamp SSSIs, despite the fact they cover a significant proportion of the SSSI series, and a high percentage of this is under AES, and therefore significant AES spend is directed to this habitat. This project will undertake desk assesments to better understand trajectories and timescales of change and the contribution of different attributes to this. Questionnaires will also be devised for NE advisers and Agreement holders to aid with the project aim.

Project aim:
To evaluate and clarify the extent to which different factors (including off site pressures from abstraction and diffuse pollution along with other water related factors e.g. drainage and vegetation management) may be inhibiting or masking the progress of lowland fen, marsh and swamp SSSIs in AES to favourable condition. These findings will assist in improving the implementation of current schemes, help to inform the development of future AES and accurately understand other levers.
1. Understand the relative importance of each of the following (in order to bring wetland SSSIs into Favourable condition by applying an AES):
a)setting up an agreement,
b) writing management prescriptions and Indicators of Success,
c) implementing management,
d)achieving measurable change in habitat condition.
2. Analyse wider evidence - looking at attributes or issues that might be causing lowland fen, marsh and swamp to fail to meet Favourable condition.
3. Assess why despite the relatively high uptake of AES on lowland wetland SSSIs there has been little change in the proportion of these sites moving to favourable condition.
4. Determine how we can make AES more effective for these habitats.
5. Outline the evidence for AES leading to change in management practices and site attributes.
6. Explore whether other factors (outside the scope of AES) are significant in inhibiting progress towards Favourable condition.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : LM04114 _WetlandSSSIs_FRP   (994k)
• TPS - Two Page Summary : LM04114_WetlandSSSIs_TPS   (128k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2020

To: 2021

Cost: £60,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Environmental Impact              
Environmental Protection              
Natural Environment              
Wildlife Management