Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breckland, England, is an important biodiversity hotspot

Date:
November 30, 2010
Source:
University of East Anglia
Summary:
Scientists are calling for radical new approaches to conservation following the first biodiversity audit of its kind. Covering around 1000 km2, Breckland is one of the driest places in England and encompasses the largest lowland forest in the UK including the popular Thetford Forest Park.

Scientists are calling for radical new approaches to conservation following the first biodiversity audit of its kind.

Led by the University of East Anglia (UEA), with partners Natural England, the Forestry Commission, Norfolk and Suffolk Biodiversity Partnerships and County Councils, the Brecks Partnership, and Plantlife, the painstaking study pooled information on every plant and animal species recorded in Breckland -- a special landscape of heathland, forest and farmland stretching across the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

In an unprecedented effort, the UEA team collated records for a huge variety of species identified in the region, from the smallest gnat and tiniest beetle, through to birds, plants and mammals. The researchers were astonished to discover that 28 per cent of the UK's rare species were found in Breckland -- an area covering only 0.4 per cent of land in the UK.

This collaborative study's innovative, evidence-based methodology offers a more targeted and dynamic approach to conservation -- identifying what biodiversity is present in a region, where it is, and what it needs if it is to thrive.

With the help of 200 naturalists, UEA collated nearly a million records, showing that 12,500 species can be found in the region. Of these, more than 2,000 are of national conservation concern. The study is believed to be the first of its kind to consider every single species found in an entire region. The team went on to analyse the ecological needs of these 2,000 rare species, which allowed them to identify novel approaches for managing habitats to restore and protect this biodiversity. The report provides a manual for land managers, showing them what can be done to restore and conserve the unique biodiversity of the region.

Covering around 1000 km2, Breckland is one of the driest places in England and encompasses the largest lowland forest in the UK including the popular Thetford Forest Park. Because the sandy soil made ploughing easy, Breckland was one of the first places in England to be settled and its unique biodiversity remains dependent on people. The medieval word 'breck' means a fallow cropped field and the team found that these lightly cultivated fields were crucial to many species unique to the region -- but many of these farmland species are now extremely rare and threatened. "We need to put the brecks back into Breckland," said Dr Dolman.

Breckland boasts a range of other important habitats -- including the UK's only inland sand dunes, grazed heathland, pine forests and wetlands.

The report's key findings are:

  • Twenty-eight per cent of all the priority Biodiversity Action Plan species in the UK occur in Breckland.
  • Sixty-five species, largely restricted to Breckland, are rarely found anywhere else in Britain, including the plants Spanish Catchfly, Field Wormwood, Breckland Thyme and rare insects such as the Brush-thighed Seed-eater and the Basil-thyme Case-bearer moth.
  • Conservation managers should encourage bare ground and complex mixtures of grazed and ungrazed vegetation. Heather, although thought to be an icon of heathland sites, is less important than disturbed ground. ("We shouldn't be scared of getting machinery in and making a right mess," said Dr Dolman, "physical disturbance isn't always bad in fact it is essential for many plants and insects.") -- Wild plant conservation charity Plantlife is launching a new project to tackle the needs of threatened wild flowers and other plants in Breckland through targeting conservation work at around 30 sites and taking forward recommendations from the biodiversity audit.
  • Cultivated farmland provides a vital habitat for many important species that need disturbed soil. However, a more tailored approach to stewardship is required.
  • Although the planting of Thetford Forest originally destroyed important habitats, the forest now has a rich biodiversity including: rare plants such as tower mustard, smooth rupturewort and red-tipped cudweed; insects such as the marbled clover and grey carpet moth; and declining farmland birds like yellowhammer and linnet.
  • Other important habitats revealed by the study were ancient trees, muddy pond edges, ungrazed fields and post-industrial sites such as gravel and sand pits.

The Breckland Biodiversity Audit will be launched in Thetford on November 30.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of East Anglia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of East Anglia. "Breckland, England, is an important biodiversity hotspot." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130104053.htm>.
University of East Anglia. (2010, November 30). Breckland, England, is an important biodiversity hotspot. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130104053.htm
University of East Anglia. "Breckland, England, is an important biodiversity hotspot." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101130104053.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins