The results of the biggest and most comprehensive survey of England’s countryside and its natural resources are unveiled in a report published today by the Countryside Survey partnership. The new results for England show some positive signals for conservation of biodiversity across widespread and common habitats, but these signals become more mixed at the finer scale. Some of the key messages from the survey include:
- An increase in frequency of the plant species used as food by butterfly caterpillars and farmland birds in Broadleaved Woodland and Arable and Horticulture Broad Habitats, as well as along hedgerows.
- Based on vegetation criteria alone, almost 80% of ponds in England were in poor condition in 2007.
- Soil pH (in the upper 15cm) has increased in many Broad Habitats associated with recovery from previous high levels of acid deposition, though the impacts of these changes on vegetation are less obvious.
- The total length of woody linear features decreased by 1.4% and the total length of managed hedgerows decreased by 6.1% between 1998 and 2007, with a large proportion of these managed hedges turning into lines of trees and relict hedges.
- 50% of managed hedges were in good structural condition.
A fuller list of key messages can be found in the Executive Summary of the main report.
Dr Ian Simpson from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who is the Project Manager for Countryside Survey, said of the England report: “It is the product of a highly successful partnership between the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and partner organisations. It is the first comprehensive Countryside Survey report for England and complements those launched recently for Scotland and Wales. The new results are vital scientific evidence documenting the state of the English countryside and the changes which have occurred since previous surveys.”