Thesis (Ph.D)

Incorporating ecological networks and green infrastructure into spatial strategies: Mapping optimal locations for habitat banks


Negative landscape change and impacts on biodiversity, as a consequence of development, must be mitigated for. In the UK mitigation is carried out through a variety of policy and planning instruments whose delivery measures are often piecemeal, thus restricting their ability to address the cumulative landscape impacts of multiple developments. One proposed response is the adoption of a type of mitigation banking - "habitat banking", where the creation, management or restoration of habitats is funded by the purchase of credits by the developer. This research proposes that spatial targeting of habitat bank locations is crucial to fully mitigate development impacts whilst maximising landscape function benefits. A landscape scale modelling approach was developed for a case study area in the South Midlands to investigate spatial targeting of habitat banks, with ecological networks and ecoprofiles employed to guide their location. Ecological effects of bank composition, size and location were examined, combined with a network analysis to determine people's access to natural greenspace in the same area, and subsequently compared against the current selection mechanism - Accessible Natural Greenspace Standards (ANGSt). Changes resulting from human population growth and habitat bank introduction were examined in association with impacts of climate change on potential bank locations over a 50 year period, whilst a chain of climate envelope, dispersal and colonisation models determined the ability of ecoprofiles to keep pace with climate changes. The ability of habitat banks to contribute to landscape functionality was determined both spatially and temporally. Habitat banks identified by the models increased the existing ecological network size by a factor of up to 2.72:1 and were able to deliver the majority of habitat creation targets set out in regional biodiversity action plans (BAPs). 100% of wetland, unimproved grassland and broadleaf and mixed woodland creation targets were met, whilst only 75% of the lowland heath target could be achieved. Multihabitat banks of over 3700 ha were identified with such areas determined to be of importance in achieving landscape improvements for a wide range of species. Although ANGSt targets were not met, habitat bank locations did increase overall greenspace accessibility for over 3000 people. The ability of ecoprofiles to track climate change was directly related to both the area and connectivity of habitat patches, with the broadleaf woodland ecoprofile being the most capable of adapting to predicted climate change. Habitat banks contributed to increased landscape functionality in the short-term but predicted climate change impacts become insurmountable in the medium to long-term, drawing into question the long-term viability of the landscape in its current state to withstand potential climate changes.

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McHugh, Nicola


Supervisors: Thompson, Stewart; Wilson, Elizabeth

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year: 2010

Published by Oxford Brookes University
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