Developing the Landscape Biodiversity Areas
The aim of new landscape addition to the Wiltshire and Swindon BAPs is to identify the best opportunities for conserving and enhancing priority habitats at a landscape scale. This single framework can then be used to guide decision making and coordinate discussions between conservation organisations, local authorities and other groups, making it easier to develop a strategic plan for conservation at a county level.
To accurately identify the priorities and opportunities for conservation, the framework was developed by drawing together habitat data from the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre and details of projects from the wider conservation community, to build an accurate picture of our natural environment and the actions in place to conserve it.
Targeting Landscape Conservation Actions
The new Landscape Framework identifies specific areas in which to focus conservation actions to conserve and enhance priority habitats at a landscape scale. These areas are called Strategic Nature Areas (SNAs) and these have been identified as part of the South West Nature Map using the Rebuilding Biodiversity in the South West methodology, a science based framework for identifying viable target areas for priority habitats and creation of a robust ecological network. The SNAs represent the best opportunities for the conservation of priority habitats at a landscape scale, focussing on creating landscape scale habitat blocks that can buffer the impacts of climate change and environmental and population pressures.
This map of SNAs was drawn up via an extensive habitat mapping and validation process that drew together experts and conservation practitioners from across the south west. They define quantitative targets for creating viable landscape-scale blocks of land which can support a mosaic of habitats that can sustain wildlife in the long term. These are widely accepted and have been used by organisations across the region to guide conservation activities.
Although they provide the best opportunities for attaining the greatest biodiversity gains, working outside of SNAs will help to protect local areas of wildlife, strengthen Wiltshire’s Green Infrastructure and provide stepping stone habitats between larger blocks of semi-natural habitats covered by the SNAs. However, working outside of SNAs will not provide conservation benefits on the same scale as those delivered through a focus on areas within the SNAs.
Defining Landscape Biodiversity Areas in which to Target Conservation Actions
This landscape addition to the Wiltshire and Swindon BAPs identifies Landscape Biodiversity Areas, natural landscape scale areas within the county which share similar geological and ecological character and within which the best opportunities for landscape scale conservation working can be identified. By defining these Areas it is hoped that people will be able to identify the spatially explicit priorities for conservation that relate to their area and that this can help aid the process of guiding and prioritising conservation actions at a local level.
The 11 Landscape Biodiversity Areas for Wiltshire and Swindon have been identified taking into account National Character Areas and the underlying geology, ecology, and Community Areas of the county. The Wiltshire Landscape Character Assessment (WLCA) has been used to help identify and group areas and the boundaries of the WLCA areas have been used as the basis of the Landscape Biodiversity Areas. The focus within these Areas will be to try and protect and enhance areas of priority habitats within the defined Strategic Nature Areas and identify where opportunities exist for reconnecting habitats to create a more coherent ecological network.
For more information please refer to the Wiltshire and Swindon Landscape-scale framework for conservation below