Not so long ago most agriculture in Northern Europe involved mixed farming, small scale equipment and modest or no use of herbicides or artificial fertilisers – it is still practised in some areas today (High nature Value Farming). Rich in opportunities for biodiversity – arable plants, mining bees, birds etc. But most modern agriculture has much less space – physical – lodges, features etc or in the arming calendar – loss of stubbles etc to accommodate wildlife.The result is a steady impoverishment of the countryside – with a few ‘islands’ of habitats protected by SSSI’s or nature reserves.
There are still many issues to address on the second pillar – the sites network, such as this network of RSPB reserves. In some areas, networks are inadequate and on non-reserve sites it can be hard to prevent inappropriate development or ensure positive management.However, despite the ongoing efforts of bodies like RSPB and the wildlife trusts, protected areas, alone, will never be sufficient to address......
..... the issues of widespread dispersed species which rely on enough space, for food, breeding and dispersal in the countryside run across nearly all groups – from butterflies to birds, bees to plants. Put simply we have seen a massive impoverishment of the countryside in our working life times.
LSC initiatives – several underway, including WTs Living landscapes, but will focus on RSPB’s Futurescapes – programme-LSC initiatives – several underway, including WTs Living landscapes, but will focus on RSPB’s Futurescapes – programme-
34 priority futurescapes across the UK, including 67 RSPB reserves, and numerous SPA, SAC, SSSI/ASSI.Selected on the basis of species and habitat needs and opportunities and will involve considerable partnership working with landowners/farmers, local Government, key agencies and other NGO’s.
Two quick examples: First, an Upland catchment – SCaMP – the subject of one of tomorrow’s site visits – which as, some of you will see, ensures restoration of upland habitats, including peatlands, benefitting not just the conservation of those habitats but also delivering improvements in water quality (and reductions in the cost of treatment) downstream.The new management matches grazing to habitat recovery, plus drain/moor grip blocking – all allowing the regeneration of native wood/scrub in right place, moorland and peatland. Benefits species/habitats – but main water benefit is lower diffuse pollution, especially suspended solids (peat) and dissolved carbon.This better water quality helps meet WFD objectives, but also greatly reduces treatment costs when the water reaches the UU extractions downstream.A win – win; Biodiversity – water quality – social/economic benefits.
And, second, the Inner Firth of ForthA good example of how all these Futurescapes contain the same recurring objectives – working with partners, seeking to deliver large scale habitat change in the face of declining species numbers and disappearing habitat. Pressure from development, recreation and modified land uses are impacting upon the ecosystem services of a major estuary. Flood risk is of particular concern as is the cost of maintaining sea defences and the escalating pumping costs of keeping low-lying land dry enough for agricultural use.
Of course one area where the protected area network is most under developed and the wider ‘landscape’ is important is the marine environment. Need for MPA networkNeed for feeding areas to be addressedLack of data/need for research
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Landscape scaleconservation and therole of protected areas Stuart Housden Director, RSPB Scotland
Conclusions Climate change will put biodiversity under more pressure than everbefore Protected areas will continue to play a key role in biodiversityconservation: managing them so they are more resilient and enablespecies to adapt will be crucialMoving species are more likely to colonise protected areas Landscape scale conservation must have protected areas at itsheart and work around them to increase heterogeneity, reversefragmentation and increase connectivity The legal framework of the EU directives gives both cover for site-based and wider landscape activityBut lets not forget the Marine Environment
2010 n=12 2011 n=13Razorbills tracked from Orkney in 2010 and 2011