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Tracking Long-Term Change and the impact of HLS in North Pennine Upland Hay Meadows, and assessing the effectiveness of sward enhancement - LM0494

Description
The aims of the project are:
1. to provide an updated assessment of the impact of agri-environment schemes and in particular Environmental Stewardship on upland hay meadows.
2. to assess the effectiveness of techniques designed to introduce and/ or increase the frequency of wildflower species in upland hay meadow swards.

These will be achieved through a resurvey of the condition of a sample of sites for which there are existing data. The effectiveness of enhancement techniques such as seed introduction and green hay spreading will be investigated by including a sample of receptor meadows subject to such interventions through specific partner projects that have utilised scheme capital payments.

The assessment will involve a field survey of each parcel, including collection of vegetation, field management and soil data. The analysis and reporting will describe the current condition of the sample and include comparison with data collected previously. Understanding the effectiveness of restoration techniques at the field and landscape scale will inform future Environmental Land Management System payments and advice
Objective
- Provide an assessment of the current condition of a sample of Upland Hay Meadow sites that are in HLS or CS management, including those subject to sward enhancement interventions.

- Use data from the core sample gathered in 2012 and 2020 to explore any changes in the condition of Upland Hay Meadows that have been managed under HLS, making a comparison between meadows managed under maintenance and restoration management regimes.

- Compare 2020 survey data from the meadows targeted for enhancement with baseline data collected by partner organisations prior to intervention.

- Explore aspects of change in botanical quality including frequency of positive indicator species, goodness of fit to target communities, and indices of species diversity and environmental influence (eg Ellenberg);

- For those sites where data is available, assess the longer-term change in condition of the meadow in response to management in agri-environment schemes for 30 years, including where possible pre and post any enhancement intervention.

- Evaluate management, soil and other relevant information and explore the reasons for any change in vegetation condition observed. The effectiveness of different restoration techniques and contributing factors, including subsequent management will be explored in the enhancement sample.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2019

To: 2020

Cost: £93,720
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Belinda Wheeler
Keywords
Agriculture              
Biodiversity              
Ecology              
Evaluation              
Habitats              
Natural Environment              
Wildlife Management