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Habitat recreation monitoring; Survey of HLS option HK8: creation of species-rich semi-natural grassland. - LM0409

The conservation of species-rich grassland has been a major objective of Agri-Environment schemes since their inception, with options available to address the historic losses of valuable habitats through restoration and re-creation.

The Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) element of Environmental Stewardship (ES), introduced in 2005, was developed to allow land with potential for creation of features of high environmental value to be better identified and to ensure clear objectives are set for their management. Grassland features are key targets within ES, particularly those identified as priorities in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan .

Option HK8 of HLS has been developed to contribute to Habitat Action Plan targets by creating species-rich grassland on former arable land, ley grassland or set-aside. It is recognised as a challenging option, and is dependent on the soil type, pH and nutrient status of the targeted land being suitable. HK8 is intended to be targeted at sites of high potential as defined in Key 1 of the HLS Farm Environment Plan Manual; except in a few clearly defined instances, i.e. where identified in regional targeting guidance, the option can be applied to sites with medium potential.

Previous monitoring of grassland restoration in the ESA and CSS schemes has demonstrated the need for careful targeting and committed management to deliver the desired outcomes on creating or restoring species-rich grassland – in many cases, targeting of management was inappropriate or management imposed insufficient to meet objectives; in part this was because understanding of the conditions necessary for successful restoration was still evolving. For this project the contractor will field survey 40 HK8 sites and will additionally collect soil samples. Using the data collected, and drawing on further information from advisers and agreement-holders, the contractor will evaluate the likely success of this sample of HK8 agreements.
The objectives of this project are:

1. To survey and assess the current condition of the sample of 40 grassland sites originally studied in 2006/07 by Just Ecology, and the progress towards BAP priority grassland status;
2. To evaluate, based on soil data collected and via observations made in the field whether HK8 option was correctly targeted as per Key 1 of the FEP Handbook.
3. To collate up to date information for each site, from the adviser(via a questionnaire) and where necessary the agreement holder and/or other stakeholders, on the measures taken so far to establish and manage the grassland and the plans for the remaining period of agreement;
4. To make a judgement on the appropriateness of the original Indicators of Success (IoS) based on all the data collated and if IoS are not deemed appropriate to suggest requisite changes.
5. If Indicators of Success are appropriate assess the likelihood of the agreement meeting its overall objectives and its specific Indicators of Success.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : LM0409 Final report   (1012k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2011

To: 2011

Cost: £17,688
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Hewins Ecology
Environmental Stewardship