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Enhancing the environmental benefits of farm woodlands plantings - OC9421

Farm woodland plantations often suffer from species impoverishment when compared to established or naturally occurring mature woodland since they are often isolated within the agricultural landscape, as well as being small in size. This project will aim to advance understanding of the design, management and location of farm woodland plantations by concentrating on methods of accelerating succession in order to increase biodiversity in a sustainable manner. The study will be composed of 4 objectives which are outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. Determination of current levels of biodiversity and development of a method for evaluating conservation and environmental features of young farm woodland plantations. Approximately 200-300 existing farm woodland plantations will be identified and a stratified sampling regime will be implemented to capture data from these sites. Variables measured will include canopy species, design and layout, field layer species and fungi, invertebrates, soil type etc. The Lincolnshire database will also be used to analyse species composition in relation to plantation age and management history; 2. Development of models of the best physical predictors (landscape-scale and within-site variables) of species diversity and understanding of their interaction. Canoco will be used to establish gradients of environmental/conservation variables which would enable grouping of the sites. Log linear modelling (GLIM) of the within-site habitat and vegetation species data will also be employed with reference to woodland size, geographic location, configuration, management history and surrounding landscape features; 3. Incorporation of results of the models into a current expert system regarding field layer enhancement in new woodlands; and 4. Field testing of the expert system within the observed range of farm woodland plantation types in the UK. Manipulation of existing field layer vegetation within a replicated experimental design will be undertaken using selected perennial field layer species that have contrasting regenerative strategies. Survival and performance of plants, together with associated effects on invertebrate diversity will also be measured, while existing woodland data will be used to test effects of "enhancements" against age of woodlands with a known history of management and original status. Results of the study will be used in the design and management of farm woodland plantations with particular relevance to enhancing biodiversity, and could be exploited commercially by those involved in providing advice on woodland planting.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1998

Cost: £178,955
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Ecoscope Applied Ecologists
Fields of Study
Farm Woodlands