Mapping Our Wildlife Habitats

Introduction

Meadows, woodlands, hedgerows, ponds, rivers and other wetlands are constantly changing, year by year, decade by decade. By making a Parish Wildlife Map, our surveys and research can be used as a reference, not only for current conservation work, but also as a lasting legacy for generations to come.

What is a ParishWildlife Map?

A Parish Wildlife Map is a graphical representation of some of the key habitats and species within our parish boundary, created from a combination of background materials and surveys. How much information is shown on a Parish Wildlife Map and how detailed that information is will depend on the circumstances.

Why make a Parish Wildlife Map?

Some areas of our parish may not have been mapped in specific detail and some areas may have been mapped several years ago, but are now in need of an update. Some maps are prone to inaccuracies and human error, which may only be discovered through a new survey. Though not always obvious, our environment is in constant change and the records we make could be invaluable in discovering transformations to our local area that are happening without anyone realising – both good changes and bad!

What experience do I need to help make a Wildlife Map?

You don’t need to be a professional ecologist or an expert in wildlife identification, neither do you have to be a trained Cartographer! The most important thing is to have an enthusiasm and interest in our local wildlife and environmental projects.

Who should be involved in the project?

Anybody who is enthusiastic, we currently have a group of seven people. Each person contributes at different levels, but with more people and by spreading out the workload we will be able to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time.

When is the best time to do a survey?

Some habitats and species are best studied during particular seasons. Hedgerows, grassland, ponds, rivers and lakes are best studied during spring and summer. Woodlands can be studied in spring, summer and autumn. Garden surveys can be completed all year round.

How long will it take to complete a Wildlife Map?

The amount of time taken on the survey will depend on how many people we can get involved, and how wide an area we want to cover and to what level of detail we plan to research.

Natural England has produced a useful online database that can instantly show you Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and Agri-Environment schemes within our parish.

Many Agri-Environment schemes encourage landowners to undertake conservation work, for example, maintaining species-rich hedgerows, and they may indicate areas of high ecological value that could be useful in planning our Wildlife Map.

Natural England’s database of maps can be found at www.natureonthemap.org.uk.

‘Magic’ is a web-based interactive map that brings together information on key environmental schemes and designations in one place. You can access Magic’s interactive maps at www.magic.gov.uk.

Google Earth is a free application that lets you view satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings. The latest Google Earth features historical imagery from around the globe which allows users to traverse back in time and study earlier stages of a geographical place. To download the latest Google Earth application go to: www.earth.google.co.uk .

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

An SSSI is an area which is of special nature conservation value. SSSIs are designated across the UK by Natural England and they are given some protection by law. To find out where the SSSIs are in our area please visit  www.naturalengland.org.uk .

Local Wildlife Site (LWS).

A Local Wildlife Site is considered to be of county significance for wildlife but these sites are not protected by law. A Local Wildlife Site will, however, be taken into account in the planning system.

The above is a modified extract from the Wildlife Trusts “The Parish Wildlife Map Toolkit”, which can be found on http://www.hwt.org.uk/data/files/hwt_wildlife_toolkit_web.pdf

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