Presentation on theme: "NORTHERN IRELAND COUNTRYSIDE SURVEY AND HNV FARMLAND Richard Weyl and Mark Wright Biodiversity Unit Northern Ireland Environment Agency."— Presentation transcript:
NORTHERN IRELAND COUNTRYSIDE SURVEY AND HNV FARMLAND Richard Weyl and Mark Wright Biodiversity Unit Northern Ireland Environment Agency
Northern Ireland Countryside Survey Background Field-based ecological research programme –supported by NIEA (and her predecessors) –carried out by the University of Ulster in 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Science-based record of habitat change information –records the fine scale structure of habitats –can be used to measure environmental policy effectiveness –report on the stock of habitats and more recently ecological condition of habitats. NICS is structured on statistical sampling principles and standardized protocols for habitat field survey.
NICS Methods Field survey is carried out in quarter kilometre grid squares (0.25 km2) throughout NI. –Samples are stratified based on the NI Land Classification and also by linear length of coastline for coastal sample squares (also at 0.5%) Different sample intensities have been used in different years –0.5% in 2007 (288 sample squares). Field mapping is based on a primary habitat classification, defined by vegetation structure and species composition. Areas of primary habitats can be estimated from sample squares by statistical analysis.
Results Only a part of the data has been analysed Publications –NICS 2007: Broad habitat change 1998-2007 –NICS 2007: Field boundaries summary 1998-2007 –Semi-natural habitat analysis (in house) –NI State of Biodiversity Report 2010 (in prep) Website –http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/index/publications.htm
Status of HNV farmland Broad habitats Extent of semi-natural vegetation in 2007 –622,906 ha (44 % of NI land cover). –most abundant neutral grasslands and bogs followed by broad- leaved woodland, wetland and open water. Change in semi-natural vegetation –Overall loss of 26,530 ha (4%) –Large loss of neutral grassland, –Large increase in broad-leaved woodland Change in other land cover types –Decrease in arable and horticulture –Increase in improved grassland and urban Changes are mostly a continuation of those observed between the 1980s and 1998, and reflect changing economic drivers resulting in more intensive farming, farming abandonment and development pressure.
Change in Broad habitat area Broad Habitats 19982007 Change (ha) Change (ha) (%) Broadleaved/Mixed & Yew Wood.63507816991819328.65* Coniferous Woodland6213560617-1518-2.44 Roads / Tracks & Hard Verge.294493095115035.1* Arable and Horticulture5721348917-8295-14.5 Improved Grassland554982573010180283.25 Neutral Grassland263902231116-32786-12.42* Calcareous Grassland17651802372.12 Acid Grassland1332410369-2954-22.18 Bracken - dense30842645-439-14.25 Heath (Dwarf Shrub)1390916751284220.43 Fen, Marsh & Swamp (Wetland)5293547255-5680-10.73 Bog164216160902-3314-2.02 Standing Open Water (Waterbodies) 6178561332-453-0.73 Rivers & Streams539054951051.96 Montane¹<735 -- Inland Rock79695450-252031.62 Urban/Built Up Areas56847740981725130.35* Supralittoral Rock17171581-136-7.94 Supralittoral Sediment185919951367.33 Total Area1415986
Changes within land cover –types and NI priority habitats 31% decrease in fen meadow 30% decrease in species-rich dry grassland 22% decrease in acid grassland 31% increase in upland heathland
Potential for detailed analyses habitat condition Each parcel or polygon sample has associated attribute information which can be used to assess condition –~ 1/3 of the area of species-rich dry grassland has some degree of scattered scrub cover –Mean Sphagnum cover of blanket bog 13%
Application to HNV farmland NICS is sample-based, independent, can be used to measure stock, condition and change over time in geographic areas, needs sufficient sample size Case study – Northern Ireland ESAs 1998 - 2007 –Rye grass ↓1.3% inside ESA; ↑4.4% outside ESA; –Other agricultural grassland ↑4.4% inside ESA; ↓17.5% outside ESA –Species-rich dry grassland ↑7% inside ESA; ↓42% outside ESA –Fen meadow ↓19% inside ESA; ↓27% outside ESA
SUMMARY NICS has great potential to contribute to monitoring HNV farmland Needs better and more secure resourcing Needs to be shared between across Government Departments