CLM Spring issue 2018 - Page 29



THE INCREASING IMPORTANCE
OF MONITORING WILDLIFE
RESPONSES TO HABITAT
MANAGEMENT
Rob Fuller, Matthew Marshall, Brian
Eversham, Paul Wilkinson and
Karen Wright
The authors argue for a more strategic
approach to monitoring the consequences
of conservation actions and for greater
sharing of the results.
Habitat loss and habitat degradation are fundamental causes of wildlife impoverishment in Britain in
recent decades. The large-scale creation, restoration
and management of habitat have become a crucially
important focus of conservation, with a rationale
for action now provided by Lawton et al. (2010).
A strategic landscape-scale approach is vital in
working towards the recovery of nature, and this
is recognised in the Government’s 2011 Natural
Environment White Paper. In our crowded island,
where the pressures on land are exceedingly high
and the resources available to conservation very
limited, it is a huge challenge to establish the types
of habitat networks essential for maintaining
and expanding the populations of many species.
Nonetheless, remarkable work is being carried out
across the conservation movement. This magazine
has highlighted achievements in creating or restoring
large sites or landscapes, including Lakenheath Fen
(Sills & Hirons 2011), Thorne and Hatfield Moors
(Lunn et al. 2011), The Great Fen (Bowley 2013)
Tests of habitat restoration could be valuable in
helping to reverse the decline of the Nightingale.
Edmund Fellowes/BTOImages
and Wallasea (Ausden et al. 2015). A recent article
on the Meres and Mosses (Jones 2015) illustrates
the reality of implementing Lawton’s four primary
principles of creating landscapes with more, bigger,
better and joined habitat (Lawton et al. 2010). There
is no simple blueprint; each landscape needs to be
considered individually in terms of the needs of key
species and the opportunities that exist for habitat
creation or restoration.
Given the constraints on land availability for
conservation, it is increasingly important that those
areas under conservation management are subject
to the most effective interventions to achieve the
greatest effect (Baker & Fuller 2013). The most
certain way to ensure survival of populations of
localised species and ones with specialised habitat
needs is to increase the area of high-quality habitat
(Hodgson et al. 2009, 2011). This must take
account of the critical needs of these species in
terms of features such as soil type, water chemistry,
preferred foodplants, microtopography and vegetation microstructures. In contrast, many interventions focus on very generalised prescriptions for
managing vegetation that do not necessarily create
the diversity of structures required by many of the
species, especially invertebrates, that should be
February 2016 British Wildlife 175
BWM27_3 07 monitoring-v2.indd 175
29/01/2016 13:48

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