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England Habitat Network

Location: England, United Kingdom

Objective: create a comprehensive and scientifically robust ecological network for England

Problems: top down approach, generalised assumptions, national spatial data with varying consistency, lack of local champions, patchy local refinement through wider stakeholder involvement, connectivity not understood by stakeholders; river systems not covered

Solutions: more consistent local implementation through statutory agencies; recruitment of local ‘champions’, refinement through the addition of local habitat data, expansion to a wider range of habitat types, better quality remotely-sensed land cover information, structured local stakeholder engagement,  integration of refined national spatially explicit outputs with local initiatives so that networks are considered as part of a wider set of multiple, land use objectives

Results: identification of High Nature Value Farmland; improved targeting of agricultural subsidies; development of specific spatial planning policies such as ENV8 in the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Spatial Strategy; completion of a national climate change vulnerability assessment; targeted land acquisition activity; strengthening of local initiatives by placing priorities in a national context, e.g. woodland creation and habitat network development; used to support green infrastructure planning and public benefit scoring; underpins practical climate adaptation action

Critical factors of success: agri-environment scheme targeting; development control; spatial planning; connectivity-related land management

Key learning points: use of expert judgement to assess landscape matrix resistance scores to dispersal; evaluation of the whole landscape mosaic rather than just ‘linear and continuous features’; use of maps to assess the contribution that natural assets were making to the North West regional economy; inclusion of non-statutory local wildlife site information in two regions; networks scaled to species with ‘intermediate’ dispersal requirements

Actors: Wide range of staff within English Nature/Natural England and key contacts in Forest Research and academia initially; Government Offices, Regional Assemblies, Regional Biodiversity Partnerships and Local Government subsequently

Communication: internal government process: conservation agency and forestry sectors; maps for communicating the plans and ideas for consultation and decision making purposes

Financing: Core central government funding

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