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Common land is widely recognized to be of high value for biodiversity conservation, which is often attributed to the maintenance of traditional patterns of land use. The decline in such traditions could represent a significant potential cause of biodiversity loss, and for this reason, livestock grazing is being widely reintroduced to common land as a conservation management approach. However, evidence is lacking regarding the effectiveness of traditional management approaches for biodiversity conservation. This paper critically evaluates such approaches with specific reference to the New Forest National Park, UK. Evidence is presented indicating the exceptional importance of this area for biodiversity, which can largely be attributed to the low-input pastoral land use associated with commoning activity that has been maintained over a period of centuries. However, evidence is also presented indicating that at least 170 species have been lost from the New Forest in recent decades, partly because of overgrazing. The reasons for this paradox are explored, with reference to how the commoning tradition has evolved in recent decades. Such traditions will need to continue to evolve if the New Forest socio-ecological system is to be resilient to future change.
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Book Title Cultural Severance and the Environment
Series Title 10168
Chapter Title Biodiversity Conservation and the Traditional Management of Common Land: the Case of the New Forest
Copyright Year 2013
Copyright HolderName Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Corresponding Author Family Name Newton
Particle
Given Name Adrian C.
Suffix
Division School of Applied Sciences, Christchurch House, Talbot Campus
Organization Bournemouth University
Address Fern Barrow, BH12 5BB, Poole, Dorset
Email anewton@bournemouth.ac.uk
Abstract Common land is widely recognized to be of high value for biodiversity conservation, which is often
attributed to the maintenance of traditional patterns of land use. The decline in such traditions could
represent a significant potential cause of biodiversity loss, and for this reason, livestock grazing is being
widely reintroduced to common land as a conservation management approach. However, evidence is
lacking regarding the effectiveness of traditional management approaches for biodiversity conservation.
This paper critically evaluates such approaches with specific reference to the New Forest National Park,
UK. Evidence is presented indicating the exceptional importance of this area for biodiversity, which can
largely be attributed to the low-input pastoral land use associated with commoning activity that has been
maintained over a period of centuries. However, evidence is also presented indicating that at least 170
species have been lost from the New Forest in recent decades, partly because of overgrazing. The reasons
for this paradox are explored, with reference to how the commoning tradition has evolved in recent
decades. Such traditions will need to continue to evolve if the New Forest socio-ecological system is to be
resilient to future change.
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1Chapter 24
2Biodiversity Conservation
3and the Traditional Management
4of Common Land: the Case of the New
5Forest
6Adrian C. Newton
724.1 Introduction
8In the UK, the term ‘common land’ refers to land in private ownership, where
9traditional rights exist for people other than the landowner (‘commoners’) to use
10 the land in specific ways. Such rights include the grazing of stock (common of
11 pasture), digging of peat for fuel (turbary), collecting timber (estovers) and the
12 taking of fish (piscary) (Aitchison et al. 2000; Short 2008). The use and man-
13 agement of common land is supported by national government legislation such as
14 The Commons Registration Act of 1965 and The Commons Act of 2006.
15 In recent years, common land has become the focus of increasing interest and
16 concern. Specific issues relate to the decline of their economic functions, which
17 could potentially threaten their existence; the development of multiple use pat-
18 terns; their resilience to socio-economic and environmental change; and the policy
19 responses required to sustain them in future (Short 2008). It has also been sug-
20 gested that commons are playing an increasingly important role in the provision of
21 a range of functions, including nature conservation, heritage, landscape and eco-
22 system services, as well as supporting local livelihoods (Short 2008).
23 The high value of common land for biodiversity conservation is widely
24 acknowledged (Aitchison et al. 2000). This value is illustrated by the fact that
25 around 20 % of all Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England include
26 common land, and that 55 % of all commons contain SSSIs. Given their long
27 history of human use, there is a widespread belief that the biodiversity value of
28 common land is dependent on maintenance of traditional management approaches
29 (Hindmarch and Pienkowski 2000). A recent review of pastoral commoning (i.e.
A. C. Newton (&)
School of Applied Sciences, Christchurch House, Talbot Campus, Bournemouth University,
Fern Barrow BH12 5BB Poole, Dorset
e-mail: anewton@bournemouth.ac.uk
AQ1
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Environmental History 2, DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6159-9_24,
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
1
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30 the grazing of common land with livestock) in England suggested that there has
31 been a significant reduction in the numbers of grazing livestock on commons over
32 the last 20 years, and especially during the past decade. As reported by com-
33 moners, this has been associated with a significant increase in scrub and bracken
34 cover over the same period (Pastoral Commoning Partnership 2009), suggesting a
35 decline in habitat condition. However, the precise impacts of this trend on different
36 elements of biodiversity remain unclear.
37 It is now widely believed that traditional management approaches can make a
38 positive contribution to biodiversity conservation in many different contexts
39 (Berkes et al. 2000). This has led researchers to highlight the importance of social
40 capital in biodiversity conservation and management, and the need to integrate the
41 biological and social elements of conservation (Pretty and Smith 2004). In the UK,
42 a belief in the efficacy of traditional land use approaches has led to the widespread
43 reintroduction of livestock grazing on common land to support their conservation
44 management. However, few attempts have been made to assess whether traditional
45 management approaches are indeed effective in terms of delivering conservation
46 benefits; available evidence suggests that this is not always the case (Sutherland
47 2000). This highlights the need for critically evaluating the impact of traditional
48 management approaches on the biodiversity associated with common land.
49 This can usefully be illustrated by the example of lowland heathland, a habitat
50 of high conservation value that is an important constituent of many commons.
51 Heathland has become the focus of increasing conservation concern throughout
52 northern Europe as a result of high rates of loss and degradation. A decline in the
53 traditional uses of heathlands is a significant factor responsible for the widespread
54 decline in habitat condition. Such uses typically included livestock grazing, con-
55 trolled burning and cutting of vegetation for use as fuel and animal fodder, and the
56 cutting of turf and peat (Webb 1998). As a result of end of this tradition, many
57 heathlands have reverted to scrub or woodland through a process of natural suc-
58 cession, which now represents one of the main threats to heathland biodiversity
59 (Rose et al. 2000). In response, livestock grazing has been widely reintroduced to
60 lowland heaths to support their conservation management; Newton et al. (2009)
61 identified 46 heaths where this has recently taken place. However, introduction of
62 livestock to heathlands has been controversial, often attracting significant local
63 opposition.
64 To evaluate the evidence for management of lowland heaths, Newton et al.
65 (2009) conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature. Meta-analysis
66 indicated that grazing can result in an increase in the ratio of grass to ericoid shrub
67 cover, highlighting a potential negative effect of introducing grazing to heathland;
68 no other statistically significant effects were recorded. This highlights the lack of a
69 substantive evidence base to inform conservation management decisions, a prob-
70 lem that characterizes many conservation problems (Sutherland et al. 2004).
71 Newton et al. (2009) also demonstrated most heathland managers believe that
72 grazing is an effective approach to heathland management, contradicting the
73 findings in the scientific literature. This example highlights the potential risks of
74 adopting traditional management approaches uncritically (Sutherland 2000).
2 A. C. Newton
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75 This paper explores the impacts of traditional management approaches on
76 biodiversity, with specific reference to the common land of the New Forest. This
77 area is situated on the south coast of England in the counties of Hampshire and
78 Wiltshire (Fig. 24.1). The ecological characteristics of the New Forest have been
79 greatly influenced by its history as a medieval hunting forest, and the survival of a
80 traditional commoning system that became formalised in late medieval times
81 (Tubbs 2001). This has led to the maintenance of populations of large, free-ranging
82 herbivores, including deer as well as livestock. The ‘perambulation’ of the Forest,
83 encompassing some 37,907 ha, refers to the area within which forest bye-laws
84 apply, relating to the pasturage of livestock on common land. Around three-
85 quarters of this area is referred to as the ‘Crown lands’, reflecting their status as
86 Royal Forest. The unenclosed Forest is referred to by Tubbs (2001) as the largest
87 area of semi-natural vegetation in lowland Britain, and includes large tracts of
88 heathland, valley mire and ancient pasture woodland, three habitats that are now
89 fragmented and rare throughout lowland Western Europe.
90 The New Forest is widely considered to be one of the most important areas for
91 wildlife in the UK (Newton 2010a). This is reflected in the many conservation
92 designations in the area. In 2005, the area was designated as the New Forest
93 National Park, which extends over 57,100 ha, a substantially larger area than that
94 included within the perambulation (Fig. 24.1). Some twenty SSSIs, six Natura
95 2000 sites, and two Ramsar Convention sites included at least partly within the
Fig. 24.1 Map of the New Forest National Park, with the area of the Perambulation shaded in
grey (after Newton 2010a)
24 Biodiversity Conservation and the Traditional Management of Common Land 3
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96 Park boundaries (Chatters 2006). In recent years, some 6,000–7,400 ponies, cattle,
97 donkeys, pigs and sheep have been de-pastured on the Open Forest (i.e. the
98 unenclosed common), by about 550 commoners (NPA 2008).
99 24.2 The New Forest commons
100 Commoning in the New Forest was recently reviewed by the Pastoral Commoning
101 Partnership (2009), on which the following account is partly based. The livestock
102 de-pastured on the Forest are principally ponies and cattle, with smaller numbers
103 of pigs and donkeys. During the past 50 years, pony numbers have normally been
104 in the range 2,000–4,000 and cattle 1,500–3,000. For pigs, numbers have generally
105 been around 200, although with occasional higher peaks. The number of ponies
106 has tended to increase over time, whereas numbers of cattle have tended to remain
107 within the same range, despite fluctuations (Fig. 24.2).
108 The New Forest is unusual in that grazing numbers are officially unrestricted,
109 but are limited to those individuals whose properties have the right to pasture
110 attached. In practice, overall limits to numbers of livestock can be set through
111 management of payment schemes. Currently (2003–2013) there is a Countryside
112 Stewardship Scheme in place, which is a 10-year agreement, under which the UK
113 Government makes payments totalling some £460,000 each year. In return for de-
114 pasturing their animals for laid down minimum periods, commoners receive an
115 annual headage payment, which is currently set at £55 each for cattle, ponies and
116 donkeys. The Scheme defines limits on the numbers of livestock on which pay-
117 ment can be claimed.
118 The economics of commoning, and its future prospects, have been the subject
119 of a recent review (The New Forest Commoning Review Group 2007). This
120 highlighted the poor economic returns from commoning, and suggested that this is
121 undermining its long term sustainability. Despite payments through the
Fig. 24.2 Numbers of stock
depastured in the New Forest.
Data from the New Forest
Verderers (http://
www.verderers.org.uk/
stock_depastured.pdf).
Symbols: pigs, filled squares;
cattle, open triangles; ponies,
filled circles; total, open
diamonds. After Newton
(2010b)
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122 Countryside Stewardship and Single Payment Schemes, the review concluded that
123 all commoners are losing substantial amounts of money as a result of
124 commoning’.
125 There is general consensus that tradition plays a major role in maintaining the
126 use of the New Forest common (Pastoral Commoning Partnership 2009). There is
127 also a general consensus that commoning activity, or more specifically livestock
128 grazing, is central to maintaining the high conservation value of the New Forest
129 (Verderers of the New Forest 2005). This is reflected in all current management
130 plans, including those relating to the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (Wright
131 and Westerhoff 2001), the Crown Lands (Forestry Commission 2008) and the
132 National Park (New Forest National Park Authority 2008). But is this true? The
133 following section evaluates this contention, with reference to current information
134 regarding the status and trends of biodiversity in the New Forest.
135 24.3 Biodiversity in the New Forest
136 24.3.1 Biodiversity Importance
137 Many authors have suggested that the New Forest is of exceptional importance for
138 biodiversity (Tubbs 2001). However, what evidence is available to support such
139 claims? The biodiversity of the New Forest has recently been profiled in detail,
140 with the objective of answering this question. Newton (2010a) presents informa-
141 tion on the current status and trends of New Forest habitats and different groups of
142 species. In the light of this evidence presented, can the claims regarding the
143 conservation importance of the New Forest be sustained? The answer is a
144 resounding ‘yes’.
145 For all of the species groups considered by Newton (2010a), the New Forest is
146 of national importance, and for many, it is also of international importance
147 (Table 24.1). The species richness of many groups is high, sometimes excep-
148 tionally so. For example, more than two thirds of the British species of reptiles and
149 amphibians, butterflies and moths, fish, bats, dragonflies and damselflies are found
150 in the New Forest (Table 24.1). Even for those groups that are less well repre-
151 sented, at least one sixth of all British species have been recorded in the area. In
152 every group considered, the New Forest is home to species of national conser-
153 vation concern, and in some groups, the numbers of such species is very sub-
154 stantial; for example 155 vascular plants, 264 butterflies and moths, and 142
155 lichens (Table 24.1).
156 What accounts for the exceptional importance of the New Forest for biodi-
157 versity? High species richness can be attributed to a wide range of factors, which
158 differ in their relative importance between different species groups. Its geographic
159 location on the south coast of England is certainly a factor, with relatively mild
160 winters and warm summers being conducive to thermophilic species. However, the
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Table 24.1 Importance of the New Forest for different groups of species (based on information presented by Newton (2010b), except Snook (1998))
Species group Significance of the new
forest at national scale
No. species of conservation
concern
Estimated total no. of species Approx. percentage of total
number of species in Britain
(%)
Birds Outstanding; particularly
important for breeding
waders, raptors and
heathland; exceptionally
rich in woodland birds
37 302
a
17
Mammals
other than
bats
Small mammals generally
scarce. Species present of
conservation importance
include dormouse, otter and
water vole
319 35
Bats Outstandingly rich; possibly
the most important area in
Britain. High species
richness; may contain
significant populations of
Bechstein’s and barbastelle
bat, two of the rarest bats in
Europe
13 13 81
Reptiles and
amphibians
One of the most important
areas in the UK. High
species richness;
particularly notable species
include smooth snake, sand
lizard and great crested
newt.
12 12/13 92
(continued)
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Table 24.1 (continued)
Species group Significance of the new
forest at national scale
No. species of conservation
concern
Estimated total no. of species Approx. percentage of total
number of species in Britain
(%)
Fish Fairly high species richness,
possibly of national
importance
[222 88
Invertebrates Nationally significant 544 5000–10,000 17–33
Dragonflies
and
damselflies
A national hotspot for diversity 9 31 69
Saproxylic
beetles
One of the richest parts of
Britain, and of European
significance
53 326 55
Butterflies and
moths
Outstanding national
importance
72 RDB, and 192 NN 1488 (of which 33 are butterflies) 66
Other invertebrates Exceptionally rich
invertebrate fauna, at least
in woodlands. Largest
known British assemblage
of Diptera
403 including Coleoptera,
Hymenoptera, Diptera,
Orthoptera,
Hemiptera,
Crustacea
1539 Coleoptera,
22 Orthoptera, 296 taxa of
macro-invertebrate
recorded from Forest
streams
Vascular
plants
Nationally and internationally
important, but perhaps not
of exceptional importance
at the international scale
72 RDB, 43 nationally rare or
scarce
Approx. 540 36
Lichens Outstanding international
importance
64 RDB, plus 78 other species
of conservation interest
421 18
(continued)
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Table 24.1 (continued)
Species group Significance of the new
forest at national scale
No. species of conservation
concern
Estimated total no. of species Approx. percentage of total
number of species in Britain
(%)
Fungi Of the highest importance
nationally, and of high
international importance, at
least for some fungal
groups (e.g. beechwood
saprotrophs)
89 2600 22
Bryophytes One of the best areas in
lowland England for
bryophytes
33 326 32
a
Snook (1998)
RDB red data book; NN nationally notable
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161 New Forest is not characterized by especially high endemicity. Rather, the New
162 Forest can perhaps best be viewed as a refuge for species that were formerly more
163 widespread and abundant, but have declined elsewhere (Rand and Chatters 2010).
164 A key feature of the New Forest is the maintenance of low-input pastoral
165 patterns of land use that have declined both in Britain and throughout much of
166 mainland Europe. It is this pattern of land use, relatively free from agricultural
167 improvement and intensification, which accounts for the extensive areas of semi-
168 natural habitats that characterize the New Forest today. As is made clear by Tubbs
169 (2001) and by Wright and Westerhoff (2001), it is not just the presence of such
170 habitats that is important, but their occurrence in an intimate mosaic, and on a
171 scale that is now unique in lowland England. These characteristics can be attrib-
172 uted to the maintenance of commoning activity over a period of centuries.
173 24.3.2 Status and Trends in Biodiversity
174 Tubbs (2001, p. 365) stated that ‘the biodiversity of the New Forest is now
175 diminishing rapidly’. To evaluate the evidence for this contention, Newton
176 (2010b) compiled available information regarding the status and trends in different
177 species groups, and the habitats with which they are associated.
178 Cantarello et al. (2010) presented an overview of the current condition of
179 habitats in the New Forest, based on the Common Standards Monitoring (CSM)
180 approach conducted by Natural England. Current results indicate that 463
181 assessment units (out of 576) are in unfavourable condition, representing 80 % of
182 units, or 68 % expressed as a percentage of the total area. For 114 of the 463 units
183 in unfavourable condition, the reasons for the condition being unfavourable remain
184 unclear. For those units for which data are available, dry heathland and grassland
185 habitats are principally threatened by overgrazing, although inappropriate scrub
186 control is also a significant factor (Table 24.2). In wet heathland, wet grassland
Table 24.2 Assessment of threats to habitats in the New Forest, based on results of Common
Standards Monitoring (CSM) assessments (Cantarello et al. 2010). Values presented are
percentages of the total area classified as in ‘unfavourable condition’, attributed to each threat
Threat Habitat type
Dry heathland
and dry
grassland
Wet heath, wet
grassland and
mire
Pasture, riverine
and bog
woodland
Inclosure
woodland
Forestry and woodland
management
3.17 0.73 35.3 45.4
Overgrazing 39.7 0.02 1.79 –
Inappropriate scrub control 34.2 11.5 10.5
Drainage 0.19 43.6 17.3 30.2
Public access/
disturbance
0.72 – 0.42
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187 and mire habitats, the principal threat is drainage. In woodland habitats, inap-
188 propriate forestry or woodland management practices are the principal threat,
189 although drainage is also a significant factor accounting for unfavourable
190 condition.
191 Available evidence indicates that at least 170 species have been lost from the
192 New Forest in recent decades. This estimate is necessarily uncertain; many species
193 are difficult either to locate or to identify, and might be rediscovered by future
194 survey work. On the other hand, this estimate might be conservative, as infor-
195 mation on many species groups (particularly the most specious) is lacking. The
196 number of species that have been extirpated varies between different groups; losses
197 of butterflies and moths are particularly high, but significant losses also appear to
198 have occurred in lichens, saproxylic beetles and fungi (Table 24.3). A number of
199 other species appear to be declining, although again, the lack of robust monitoring
200 data limits the conclusions that can be drawn.
201 These data highlight a range of different causes of the decline or loss of species,
202 which vary among different groups (Table 24.3). The widespread damage to
203 ancient woodland habitats caused by forestry operations in the twentieth century
204 appears to have had a significant negative impact on groups such as vascular
205 plants, fungi and some invertebrates. Another key issue has been the increase in
206 grazing and browsing pressure in recent decades, particularly in the Silvicultural
207 Inclosures, which accounts for the losses of many invertebrates, especially the
208 Lepidoptera. As for the assessment of habitat condition (see above), inappropriate
209 habitat management interventions are widely cited, including scrub control, tree
210 felling and burning of heathland (Table 24.3). The loss or decline of some species
211 may be the result of processes occurring in the wider countryside, including
212 agricultural intensification and land use change in areas adjacent to the New Forest
213 (Table 24.3).
214 24.4 The Role of Traditional Commons Management
215 in Biodiversity Conservation
216 The case of the New Forest presents an intriguing paradox. On one hand, there is
217 general agreement that the New Forest is of exceptional importance for biodi-
218 versity, and that this importance can largely be attributed to the continuous
219 maintenance of commoning activity over a prolonged period. On the other hand,
220 there is clear evidence of biodiversity loss in recent decades, some of which can be
221 attributed to commoning activity. Negative impacts of commoning include over-
222 grazing, and associated management activities that are undertaken to increase
223 provision of food resources for livestock, including scrub clearance, heathland
224 burning and mire drainage.
225 Is the New Forest overgrazed? This controversial issue is considered by Newton
226 (2010b). It is widely recognised that many of the distinctive characteristics of the
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Table 24.3 Declines and losses of different species groups in the New Forest, and associated causes (threats). Based on information presented in Newton
(2010a,b), synthesized from a number of sources
Species group Trends Threats
Birds At least three species lost during the last century.
While some species (such as nightjar and
woodlark) are stable or increasing, others
(such as Dartford warbler, snipe, curlew and
redshank) are declining.
Species losses attributable to habitat loss and
possibly climate change. Causes for declines
in species often unclear, but may include
inappropriate habitat management (e.g.
Dartford warbler, sparrowhawk), disturbance
from human recreation (e.g. ground-nesting
birds), climate change, nest predation (e.g.
Montagu’s harrier).
Bats No evidence of species losses. Insufficient data to
determine trends.
Some forest management interventions may be
negative (e.g. tree felling and holly
pollarding). Possible disturbance from
recreation.
Reptiles and amphibians One extinction of a native species (Natterjack
toad). Sand lizard lost but reintroduced.
Common toad declines may be caused by fungal
disease. Inappropriate heathland management
(burning) responsible for loss of sand lizard.
Main threat to reptiles is inappropriate
heathland management.
Fish No evidence of losses. Insufficient data to
determine trends.
History of catchment modification and drainage
likely to have had negative impacts on fish
populations, but evidence limited.
Invertebrates
Dragonflies and damselflies One extinction. Some evidence of historic
declines in some species; others appear
stable.
Drainage actions and scrub development
responsible for species loss.
Saproxylic beetles At least five species believed to be extinct; 27
further species not reported in past 25 years.
Insufficient data to determine trends,
although some species appear to have
declined.
Extinctions caused by scrub clearance, and
forestry/commoning activities involving the
felling of large, old trees.
(continued)
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Table 24.3 (continued)
Species group Trends Threats
Butterflies and moths General decline of many species in recent
decades; 124 species believed to have been
lost.
Increased levels of herbivore grazing and
browsing, particularly in the Inclosures,
leading to a loss of structural diversity and
food sources. Greater intensity of
management for grazing (burning, reseeding,
scrub clearance). Direct destruction of habitat
caused by forestry operations (e.g. conifer
planting, surfacing of rides in Inclosures).
Economic pressures driving land use at the
Forest margins (e.g. urban development,
pony paddocks, lack of support for traditional
woodland management).
Other invertebrates Insufficient data to determine trends. Some
extinctions are likely to have occurred as
many rare species have not been recorded for
a long time, e.g. New Forest cicada may now
be extinct. Groups such as Orthoptera appear
to have undergone significant declines.
Changes to the grazing regime and management
of the heaths and woodlands are likely to
have had a detrimental affect on many insect
species and their habitats. Increase in grazing
intensity since the 1960s is a particular issue,
especially in Inclosures. The intensification
of farmsteads within the Forest and the loss of
small rotationally managed fields must also
have been negative in the Forest, as
throughout the wider countryside.
Inappropriate ride management and
widespread scrub clearance likely to have
negative impacts.
(continued)
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Table 24.3 (continued)
Species group Trends Threats
Vascular plants One species known to have gone extinct in the
middle of the 20th century: summer lady’s-
tresses (Spiranthes aestivalis), which was
exterminated by over-collecting and drainage
damage. Little evidence of declines in
species, although few monitoring data
available and impacts of human activity
uncertain.
Invasion by exotic water plants (e.g. Crassula
helmsii) is probably a major threat to flora
associated with ponds. Other invasive species
such as Rhododendron similarly pose a threat
to terrestrial vegetation. In the 20th century,
forestry practices involving creation of new
plantations and planting up of ancient
woodland undoubtedly caused enormous
damage. Management practices and laissez-
faire attitudes to grazing within the
Inclosures during the second half of the
twentieth century led to negative impacts on
flowering plants.
Lichens Few monitoring data available. Most uncommon
species appear to be stable. However, some
are clearly declining and some extinctions
appear to have occurred. A total of 13 species
were recorded from New Forest woods in the
nineteenth century and have not yet been
refound, and may therefore be extinct. In
addition, four leafy species recorded since
1967 appear to have been lost and a further
four are declining and rare.
The spread of holly, and hence increased shade,
in the past 150 years is the most significant
issue. Pollution is another significant factor,
especially of sulphur and nitrogen. This may
be responsible for difficulties in colonising
rather than direct poisoning of the mature
thalli. Death of trees has also caused loss of
colonies.
(continued)
24 Biodiversity Conservation and the Traditional Management of Common Land 13
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Table 24.3 (continued)
Species group Trends Threats
Fungi Few monitoring data available. Little evidence of
declines. Extinctions hard to evaluate
although 18 species of conservation concern
have not been seen in the past 50 years and
may be extinct.
Substantial losses of semi-natural woodland
through felling and establishment of exotic
conifers in the twentieth century must have
had a major deleterious impact on fungi.
Other threats include deadwood removal, and
possibly also commercial collecting and
climate change.
Bryophytes Four species of liverwort have apparently
become extinct. Most species generally
stable.
Some species threatened by scrub invasion.
14 A. C. Newton
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232232232232232232 New Forest, and the survival of many of its species, depends directly on the
233 maintenance of large herbivore populations. It is for this reason that recent
234 management plans (Wright and Westerhoff 2001, New Forest National Park
235 Authority 2008) have placed the maintenance of the pastoral economy, and the
236 tradition of commoning, as a principal objective. On the other hand, it is clear from
237 the substantial losses of insect diversity that many entomologists believe that
238 grazing pressure is too high. Some forest ecologists believe the same, reflecting the
239 high browsing pressure and low density of tree regeneration throughout the New
240 Forest woodlands (Newton et al. 2010).
241 Despite the importance of grazing to the maintenance of many species, over-
242 grazing has clearly contributed to biodiversity loss. The high losses of invertebrate
243 species, especially Lepidoptera, have largely been attributed to an increase in
244 grazing pressure in recent decades, particularly within the Inclosures. Such losses
245 are an indicator of a decline in the condition of the New Forest as an ecological
246 system, and must have had a negative impact on the other species that depend on
247 them, such as insectivorous birds and bats (Newton 2010b). The New Forest is
248 characterized by a lack of small mammals and the birds and mammals that predate
249 them, which is the result of an impoverished insect fauna caused by high grazing
250 pressure (Putman 1986). As noted by Putman (1986), ‘‘at least in some habitats
251 and in some areas, grazing really is excessive by whatever criteria’’ . Th is
252 suggestion is borne out by the data on habitat condition presented above.
253 The SAC Management Plan (Wright and Westerhoff 2001) implies that man-
254 agement approaches should be based on tradition. This avoids the fact that some
255 habitats are not currently in favourable condition (as noted above), and fails to
256 address the fact that livestock numbers are currently higher than ever before and
257 are continuing to increase.
258 As noted earlier, overall limits to numbers of livestock can be limited by the
259 current Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which states that the number of animals
260 (ponies, donkeys and cattle) is not to fall below 3,500 or exceed 7,000 (Verderers
261 of the New Forest 2005). Yet, as indicated on Fig. 24.2, numbers have exceeded
262 this total for each of the years 2005–2007. Although such totals do not necessarily
263 provide an accurate indication of the livestock actually de-pastured on the Forest,
264 this does highlight an apparent difficulty in regulating livestock numbers.
265 24.5 Conclusions: The Role of Traditional Management
266 of Common Land in the New Forest
267 The New Forest presents a paradox: traditional management of common land
268 appears to provide both an explanation of its high biodiversity value, and a cause
269 of recent biodiversity loss. The solution to this paradox lies in recognition of the
270 fact that the pattern of land use in the New Forest is dynamic, and continues to
271 evolve.
24 Biodiversity Conservation and the Traditional Management of Common Land 15
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272 Based on the analysis presented by Tubbs (2001, p. 161), grazing and browsing
273 pressure in the New Forest is currently at a very high level, with livestock numbers
274 now among the highest on record (Fig. 24.2). In the historic past, deer densities
275 would have been much higher than at present; for example, around 8000 fallow
276 and red deer were recorded in the Crown lands in 1670 (Putman 1986). Deer
277 densities within the Crown lands are currently maintained at around 2,000 animals
278 through a programme of culling (Forestry Commission 2007). Over the past two
279 centuries, there has therefore been a shift from deer to livestock (ponies and cattle)
280 in terms of the main contribution to grazing and browsing pressure. Taking
281 account of the higher forage requirement of ponies than that of either cattle or deer
282 the grazing and browsing pressures in the New Forest may currently be higher than
283 at any time in the past, at least on those areas favoured by ponies.
284 Tubbs (2001) describes in detail how commoning activities have changed over
285 time. In Medieval times, the commons were used intensively, including the
286 widespread harvesting of bracken and gorse, turf cutting and collection of fuel-
287 wood. Such ‘traditional’ commoning declined during the early twentieth century
288 as a result of the changing socio-economic and political environment (Tubbs
289 2001). In contrast to the historic situation, few commoners are now full-time
290 farmers for whom the use of common land is a central part of the farm economy
291 (Tubbs 2001). For many commoners today, de-pasturing livestock on the Forest is
292 primarily undertaken to continue family traditions and as a social habit, rather than
293 to generate significant revenue. Participation in the social occasions associated
294 with commoning now outweighs profit as a motive to engage in commoning
295 activities (Tubbs 2001). This also accounts for the continual increase in the
296 number of ponies de-pastured in recent decades (Fig. 24.2) (Tubbs 2001).
297 The social and cultural value of commoning therefore accounts for another New
298 Forest paradox: its increasing popularity despite its low economic returns. This is
299 illustrated by the fact that the number of people de-pasturing animals in the Forest
300 increased by 50 % from 1987 to 2007 (Pastoral Commoning Partnership 2009),
301 despite the lack of a significant economic incentive. Analyses of the economics of
302 commoning consistently conclude that despite payments through the Countryside
303 Stewardship and Single Payment Schemes, commoning generates little if any
304 profit (New Forest Commoning Review Group 2007; Verderers of the New Forest
305 2005). As noted by Tubbs (2001), todays commoners provide a marked contrast to
306 the subsistence farmers of the historic past. Most subsidise their commoning
307 activities from other sources of income; some are recent incomers ‘indulging an
308 understandable whim’ (Tubbs 2001).
309 Such conclusions have implications for understanding the resilience of the New
310 Forest as an integrated socio-ecological system (Newton 2011). It is striking that
311 commoning has persisted, and even expanded in recent decades, despite the oft-
312 cited economic constraints affecting it (New Forest Commoning Review Group
313 2007; Tubbs 2001). It appears that the high social and cultural value of com-
314 moning confers a degree of resilience to an adverse economic climate. This raises
315 questions regarding the impact of the financial incentives provided for common-
316 ing. On 1st March 2010, a new Higher Level Stewardship Scheme came into effect
16 A. C. Newton
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317 for the unenclosed Crown Lands of the New Forest, which will provide in excess
318 of £1.6 million per year of public money for the New Forest over the next
319 10 years. Much of this will support commoning activities. This represents one of
320 the largest agri-environment agreements undertaken to date in Europe.
321 As demonstrated here, however, the impacts of livestock on biodiversity in the
322 New Forest are not universally positive. There is a risk that current trends could
323 lead to further intensification of grazing, and further biodiversity loss. Importantly,
324 the changing nature of commoning activity has not been reflected in management
325 plans relating to the New Forest, which emphasize the conservation benefits of
326 grazing. However, as noted by Newton et al. (2009) for the specific case of
327 heathlands, little robust scientific evidence is available for such benefits. One of
328 the principal benefits of livestock grazing often cited by the commoners is the
329 control of scrub (Verderers of the New Forest 2005), yet little evidence is available
330 concerning the ability of ponies and cattle to effectively control scrub colonisation
331 (Newton et al. 2009). The fact that the Forestry Commission places such emphasis
332 on manual scrub control highlights the fact that grazing is not effective in this
333 regard. Furthermore, scrub is of high habitat value, and plays a crucial role in the
334 ecological dynamics of the New Forest (Tubbs 2001; Newton 2010b). There is
335 therefore a strong argument for increasing, rather than decreasing, the amount of
336 scrub cover in the Forest (Tubbs 2001; Newton 2001).
337 Whereas it has been widely suggested that traditional management approaches
338 can make a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation (Berkes et al. 2000),
339 the case of the New Forest commons highlights the risks of simplistic assumptions
340 about the conservation benefits of such approaches. Current commoning approa-
341 ches are not necessarily equivalent to historical land use patterns, and may be
342 poorly suited to maintaining habitat characteristics that have evolved under the
343 latter. The New Forest has witnessed a decline of turf and vegetation cutting, and
344 an increase in grazing pressure over the past century, and this has contributed to
345 biodiversity loss. As we enter what may be an unprecedented era of environmental
346 change, the maintenance of biodiversity in future will depend on a critical
347 awareness of both the strengths and weaknesses of traditional approaches to the
348 use of common land, and an acceptance that the past may be a poor guide to the
349 future.
350 References
351 Aitchison J, Crowther K, Ashby M, Redgrave L (2000) The common lands of England. A
352 biological survey. Rural Surveys Research Unit, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
353 Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, London
354 Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (2000) Rediscovery of traditional ecological knowledge as adaptive
355 management. Ecol Appl 10(5):1251–1262
356 Cantarello E, Green R, Westerhoff D (2010) The condition of New Forest habitats: an overview.
357 In: Newton AC (ed) Biodiversity in the New Forest. Pisces Publications, Newbury,
358 pp 124–131
24 Biodiversity Conservation and the Traditional Management of Common Land 17
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359 Chatters C (2006) The New Forest—National Park status for a medieval survivor. British
360 Wildlife (December 2006), 110–119
361 Commission Forestry (2007) New Forest District deer management plan 2005–2015. Forestry
362 Commission, Lyndhurst
363 Commission Forestry (2008) The crown lands management plan 2008–2013. The Forestry
364 Commission, Lyndhurst
365 Hindmarch C, Pienkowski M (eds) (2000) Land management: the hidden costs. Blackwell
366 Science, Oxford, for the British Ecological Society, London
367 New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) (2008) New Forest National Park Plan. Consultation
368 Draft (2008) New Forest National Park Authority. Lymington, Hampshire
369 Newton AC (ed) (2010a) Biodiversity in the New Forest. Pisces Publications, Newbury
370 Newton AC (2010b) Synthesis: status and trends of biodiversity in the New Forest. In: Newton
371 AC (ed) Biodiversity in the New Forest. Pisces Publications, Newbury, pp 218–228
372 Newton AC (2011) Social-ecological resilience and biodiversity conservation in a 900-year-old
373 protected area. Ecology and Society 16(4):13
374 Newton AC, Cantarello E, Myers G, Douglas S, Tejedor N (2010) The condition and dynamics of
375 New Forest woodlands. In: Newton AC (ed) Biodiversity in the New Forest. Pisces
376 Publications, Newbury, pp 132–147
377 Newton AC, Stewart GB, Myers G, Diaz A, Lake S, Bullock JM, Pullin AS (2009) Impacts of
378 grazing on lowland heathland: a systematic review of the evidence. Biol Conserv
379 142:935–947
380 Pretty J, Smith D (2004) Social capital in biodiversity conservation and management. Conserv
381 Biol 18(3):631–638
382 Putman RJ (1986) Grazing in temperate ecosystems. Large herbivores and the ecology of the
383 New Forest, Croom Helm
384 Rand M, Chatters C (2010) Vascular plants. In: Newton AC (ed) Biodiversity in the New Forest.
385 Pisces Publications, Newbury, pp 84–111
386 Rose RJ, Webb NR, Clarke RT, Traynor CH (2000) Changes on the heathlands in Dorset,
387 England between 1987 and 1996. Biol Conserv 93:117–125
388 Short C (2008) The traditional commons of England and Wales in the twenty-first century:
389 meeting new and old challenges. Int J Commons 2, 2. URL: http://
390 www.thecommonsjournal.org/index.php/ijc/article/viewArticle/47/41. Accessed 17 June 2010
391 Snook AM (1998) Birds of the New Forest. A visitor’s guide. Centurion Books, Fordingbridge
392 Sutherland WJ (2000) The conservation handbook: research. Management and Policy, Blackwell
393 Sutherland WJ, Pullin AS, Dolman PM, Knight TM (2004) The need for evidence-based
394 conservation. Trends Ecol Evol 19(6):305–308
395 The New Forest Commoning Review Group (2007) New Forest Commoning Review 2007. A
396 commoner led review of current issues relating to the practice of commoning within the New
397 Forest National Park. New Forest National Park Authority, Lymington
398 The Pastoral Commoning Partnership (2009) Trends in pastoral commoning in England. Natural
399 England Commissioned Report NECR001. http://www.naturalengland.org.uk. Downloaded
400 17 June 10
401 Tubbs CR (2001) The New Forest. History, ecology and conservation. New Forest Ninth
402 Centenary Trust, Lyndhurst
403 Verderers of the New Forest (2005) Verderers’ Countryside stewardship scheme grazing
404 management plan. Verderers of the New Forest Lyndhurst, Hampshire
405 Webb NR (1998) The traditional management of European heathlands. J Appl Ecol
406 35(6):987–990
407 Wright RN, Westerhoff DV (2001) New Forest SAC management plan. English Nature,
408 Lyndhurst
18 A. C. Newton
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... Traditional management systems have played an important role in maintaining biodiversity especially in common lands (Bisht and Sharma 2005;Berkes, Colding, and Folke 2000;Sinthumule and Mashau 2020). However, these systems have also been criticized for shortcomings in delivering conservation benefits, inability to develop common pool strategies in response to changing resource use patterns and belief systems, and issues of accountability and bias (Sarfo-Mensah and Oduro 2007;Brick 2008;Newton 2013). ...
... The CBC approach has responded to these changes by creating opportunities for income generation such as trophy hunting and ecotourism revenues. This helps support a more common pool resource or "anthropocentric" value orientation (benefits for future generations and community) (Thompson and Barton 1994;Newton 2013;Piccolo et al. 2018). In contrast, traditional systems are derived from a direct use of resources for subsistence. ...
Article
Community-based conservation is promoted as a strategy for improving resource management through community engagement, while traditional management approaches rely on customary laws and practices to regulate the natural resource use. However, there is little research directly comparing these approaches. We used surveys and interviews to examine attitudes and perceptions of resource management in a traditional use (TU) area and a community-based conservation (CBC) area in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Respondents in the CBC area more consistently cited communal benefits, showed greater willingness to conserve natural resources, and observed greater presence of management. However, these differences were contingent on communal benefits generated in the CBC area that have helped influence attitudes about management. The CBC approach may also be more adaptable to technological and socioeconomic changes that are taxing traditional systems. This comparative analysis demonstrates how CBC may support conservation goals in the face of limited governance capacity and changing socio-economic conditions.
... The influence of grazing animals 161 the survival of traditional patterns of land use and the activities of large herbivores (Newton, 2012). The forest can usefully be divided into the open forest, over which livestock and deer are free to roam, and the silvicultural inclosures, which are areas designated for timber production from which large herbivores may be excluded. ...
... Likewise, climate change can also indirectly affect agriculture by the occurrences of pest and disease outbreaks and supporting the development of diseases related to climate change that affect the workforce (ibid). Newton (2013) establishes that climate change affects the relationship between crops and pathogens, which increased outbreaks of pests and diseases. Climate change putting additional stress on agriculture impacts agricultural production and productivity (Gornall et al., 2010) and its future impact are expected to become critical (Lobell et al., 2011;Rosenzweig et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The study explores to identify various climate change adaptation strategies adopted by farm households in the Gedeo zone, Ethiopia. It is based on cross-sectional data from 400 randomly selected sample farm households. By using cross-sectional data from a primary survey of 400 randomly selected sample farm households and applying a multivariate probit regression model, it identifies the factors determining farm households’ adoption of climate change adaptation options. The study finds five major climate change adaptation options adopted by farm households, viz. agro-forestry, soil and water conservation, small-scale irrigation, crop diversification, and adjusting planting dates. Findings indicate that various demographics, socio-economic, institutional, biophysical and climate change risk factors determine adoption of climate change adaptation strategies. The study suggests the significance of formulating different information opportunities such as local climate forums, access to media centers, and training centers for farmers, which can help to increase adaptation of farm households to climate change. Therefore, policies and development plans that persuade the adoption of adaptation strategies to climate change must consider these factors to reduce the climate repercussions.
... These structural features are frequently related to traditional land management and are present in various forms as a component of historical landscapes throughout Europe (Lieskovský et al. 2014). A wide variety of agricultural landscapes have emerged regionally, including bocage fields in Western Europe (Deckers et al. 2005), common lands in United Kingdom (Newton 2013), terraced fields in the Mediterranean (Bevan et al. 2013), pluzina fields in Czech Republic (Molnárová 2008) and agrarian Abstract Semi-natural linear habitats such as field and meadow margins are often crucial in maintaining insect diversity and species distributions in agricultural landscapes. While many ant species are capable of forming large colonies (supercolonies) that can have considerable effects on the ecosystem within which they are embedded, it is not known how colony development, persistence, and spatial structure in agricultural areas may be affected by these boundary habitats. ...
Article
Full-text available
Semi-natural linear habitats such as field and meadow margins are often crucial in maintaining insect diversity and species distributions in agricultural landscapes. While many ant species are capable of forming large colonies (supercolonies) that can have considerable effects on the ecosystem within which they are embedded, it is not known how colony development, persistence, and spatial structure in agricultural areas may be affected by these boundary habitats. We used historical orthophotographs, extensive mapping of ant nests, and spatial statistics to study how the structure of fine-scale traditional agricultural land-use mosaic in the western Carpathians of Central Europe (Slovakia) influenced one of the largest supercolonies of Formica exsecta documented in Europe—the second largest supercolony in terms of the number of nests (~1500 nests) and significant in its spatial extent (~5 ha) and estimated population abundance (~50 million of workers). The spatial analysis indicated that a distinct linear arrangement of the majority of nests along unmanaged property boundaries contributed to the remarkable size of the colony. Further, the structure of the supercolony appeared to be variable in space and dynamic over time; while some areas appeared to be saturated by larger older nests (hot spots), other areas were characterized by clusters of smaller younger nests (cold spots) potentially suggesting colony expansion over time. Field and grassland boundaries are important components of traditional fine-scale land organization in Central Europe and elsewhere, and they appeared to provide suitable and stable nesting habitat that facilitated the growth of the second largest European supercolony of F. exsecta, while the areas further away from the boundaries were affected negatively by land management. Our results demonstrate that F. exsecta supercolonies may persist in a broader range of agricultural disturbance regimes, including intensive grassland management (e.g., mowing), when an appropriate network of habitat refugia is included into land organization (e.g., unmanaged margins).
... In North America, the restoration goals are often identi ed as "natural forest ecosystems" lacking or with very little human in uence (Stanturf et al. 2014). In Europe, many of the protected habitats are open habitats with no or low forest canopy density, with some originating from historic land use, the so-called "cultural landscapes" (e.g., Convery and Dutson 2012;Newton 2013). ...
... Burning, if undertaken inappropriately (ie too frequently) has been linked to declines in the sand lizard and in butterflies and moths in the New Forest (Newton 2013). On drier sites, time since last burn affects the species of carabid beetles and spiders that are likely to be present (Usher & Thompson 1993). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The heather beetle Lochmaea suturalis is a naturally occurring species in the heather dominated landscapes of the United Kingdom. When the heather beetle population density increases dramatically it can cause significant damage to heather plants. It has been suggested that burning heather outside the permitted heather-burning season will promote the regeneration of heather following heather beetle damage. There is also some discussion as to whether burning outside the permitted season might also help control heather beetle. For these reasons Natural England regularly receives applications for licences to burn outside the permitted season. However, burning at this time of year may have effects on a wide range of biodiversity. Therefore, Natural England commissioned this report, and (NEER008 - A desk review of the ecology of heather beetle) to ensure the best available evidence is being used. An extensive literature review was carried out to determine the effectiveness of burning and other management options in managing heather-dominated systems for the heather beetle Lochmaea suturalis. In general, the quantity of relevant studies was low, and the quality of most was also poor, with very low levels of replication and/or a lack of controls or comparators being very common. There are three potential ways that management could be used. The first way is to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks. There is currently no evidence that burning is useful for this, due to a lack of relevant studies. Other management options that could be considered to achieve this are biological control and drainage of wetter areas, as well as general moorland management such as mowing, rotovating and sod cutting. The second way that burning could be used is by burning infested areas to reduce the numbers of heather beetles present. There has been some discussion as to whether it would be necessary to do this outside the current burning season, but there is currently no reliable evidence available to show whether this is effective, nor a cost-benefit analysis to take account of the additional risks of burning during the summer months. This is again due to a total lack of relevant studies. Other management options at this stage are to use insecticides on the affected areas, but there are also risks associated with this and again there is a lack of evidence as to how effective it would be. The potential for biocontrol at this stage has also not yet been explored. The third way is in encouraging regeneration of damaged areas. The available evidence for this is generally poor quality, and there is some suggestion that management techniques other than burning might be more effective at encouraging regrowth. In addition, some sites have been observed to regenerate naturally, in the absence of management, so there is a question as to whether management is necessary. Some trials are currently under way in Scotland and the Peak District with the aim of determining which management techniques are best for restoring damaged heather, but again the level of replication and lack of control areas appears to be a problem. The following are recommended in order to be better able to advise managers in the future: • Management actions should be carefully monitored so as to establish the effects of decisions (including whether to burn out of season or not). This monitoring should use properly designed experiments with adequate levels of replication and control plots. The effectiveness of management in controlling heather beetles and the effects on biodiversity as a whole and on ecosystem functioning should all be recorded. • Further research should be undertaken into the relationship between the heather beetle and its natural enemies. • Further research should be undertaken into the other factors that might affect the likelihood of outbreaks occurring.
... The influence of grazing animals 161 the survival of traditional patterns of land use and the activities of large herbivores (Newton, 2012). The forest can usefully be divided into the open forest, over which livestock and deer are free to roam, and the silvicultural inclosures, which are areas designated for timber production from which large herbivores may be excluded. ...
Book
The New Forest in Southern England is an area of mixed vegetation set aside as a Royal Hunting Forest in the 11th-century. Since that time it has been subjected to heavy grazing from large herbivores, including cattle, ponies and deer. This grazing has been the dominant influence on the entire ecological functioning of the forest system. This text combines a general review of our knowledge of the ecology of the Forest itself with original research which shows the effects of continued heavy grazing on a temperate ecosystem. Thus the book should appeal to the more general reader with an interest in natural history, conservation and the environment, as well as the academic or professional worker interested in ecology and wildlife management. In the latter context, the author's findings are examined in the light of other work on the effects of grazing in the dynamics of other ecosystems, and the New Forest is presented as a case study within this more general theme.
Article
Throughout western Europe heathlands dominated by ericaceous subshrubs occur on poor soils. Mostly, these heaths have developed and have been maintained by human activities. Traditional management has perpetuated ecosystems of a low nutrient status in which plant succession is arrested. Traditional management has involved a complex interaction between grazing, arable cultivation and the use of turf and plant material from the heaths. This basic system occurs throughout the European heathlands but with local variants. This paper reviews and compares the various systems of heathland use and management with the aim of developing new methods to maintain these cultural landscapes.
Article
Textbooks on the principles of conservation biology abound. Yet, how does one put this theoretical knowledge into practice? The aim of The Conservation Handbook is to provide clear guidance on the implementation of conservation techniques. The wide range of methods described include those for ecological research, monitoring, planning, education, habitat management and combining conservation with development. Nineteen case studies illustrate how the methods have been applied. The book will be of interest to conservation biology students and practicing conservationists worldwide. For each copy of the book sold, another copy will be sent free to a practicing conservationist outside Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Foreword by E. O. Wilson. Concise, practical guide packed full of ideas, methods and advice. Provides solutions for the main conservation problems most commonly encountered. 18 global case studies illustrate the application of techniques. The Conservation Handbook Donations Project this book is being sent free to those practising conservationists outside Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan who are otherwise unlikely to obtain a copy. These copies are provided at cost price by Blackwell Science, the publisher, and paid for with the author''s royalties. Each book sold means another one will be donated.
Article
Protected areas are increasingly being recognized as coupled social-ecological systems, whose effectiveness depends on their resilience. Here I present a historical profile of an individual case study, the New Forest (England), which was first designated as a protected area more than 900 years ago. Uniquely, a traditional pattern of land use has been maintained ever since, providing a rare opportunity to examine the resilience of an integrated social-ecological system over nine centuries. The New Forest demonstrates that over the long term, coupled social-ecological systems can be resilient to major internal and external shocks, including climate change, mass human mortality and war. Changes in governance had the greatest impact on the reserve itself, with two major crises identified in the mid-19th and 20th centuries. Resolution of these crises depended on the formation of alliances between local people and external partners, including the general public, a process that was supported by improvements in visitor access. Over a timescale of centuries, this social-ecological system has been highly dynamic in disturbance regimes but relatively stable in land use patterns. However, the factors underpinning resilience have changed over time. This case study suggests that for protected areas to be effective over the long term, social structures and institutions as well as environmental processes require adaptive capacity.
Article
In 1996 all of the heathland in south-east Dorset, southern England, was surveyed using the same recording protocols as those used in surveys in 1978 and 1987. This approach enabled the extent of the heathlands, the degree of fragmentation, and the composition of the vegetation to be compared at a landscape scale over a period of 18 years. Between 1987 and 1996 the number of heathland patches increased from 142 to 151 and the total area of heathland decreased by 552 ha from 7925 ha in 1987. The principal cause of this loss is succession to scrub and woody vegetation, which continues at a rate of 1.7% per year despite conservation management. The most significant vegetation change was a decline in the area of the vegetation types, wet heath and peatland. These had remained constant between 1978 and 1987, but declined by 376 ha (45%) and 150 ha (25%) respectively between 1987 and 1996. Although there is no direct evidence, it is speculated that changing weather patterns or pollution might be the cause. These heaths, like many in Western Europe, are subject to a wide range of national and international legislative instruments designed to ensure their conservation. These measures call for the monitoring of the status of the conserved areas. This study, which has extended over almost 20 years, provides an insight in to the problems of monitoring change in a biotope of high conservation status.
Article
Indigenous groups offer alternative knowledge and perspectives based on their own locally developed practices of resource use. We surveyed the international lit- erature to focus on the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in monitoring, responding to, and managing ecosystem processes and functions, with special attention to ecological resilience. Case studies revealed that there exists a diversity of local or traditional practices for ecosystem management. These include multiple species management, resource rotation, succession management, landscape patchiness management, and other ways of responding to and managing pulses and ecological surprises. Social mechanisms behind these traditional practices include a number of adaptations for the generation, accumulation, and transmission of knowledge; the use of local institutions to provide leaders/stewards and rules for social regulation; mechanisms for cultural internalization of traditional practices; and the devel- opment of appropriate world views and cultural values. Some traditional knowledge and management systems were characterized by the use of local ecological knowledge to in- terpret and respond to feedbacks from the environment to guide the direction of resource management. These traditional systems had certain similarities to adaptive management with its emphasis on feedback learning, and its treatment of uncertainty and unpredictability intrinsic to all ecosystems.
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Throughout western Europe heathlands dominated by ericaceous subshrubs occur on poor soils. Mostly, these heaths have developed and have been maintained by human activities. Traditional management has perpetuated ecosystems of a low nutrient status in which plant succession is arrested. Traditional management has involved a complex interaction between grazing, arable cultivation and the use of turf and plant material from the heaths. This basic system occurs throughout the European heathlands but with local variants. This paper reviews and compares the various systems of heathland use and management with the aim of developing new methods to maintain these cultural landscapes.