Bringing together data on important habitats for the first time to create a comprehensive digital mapping database that builds a picture of their extent, condition and current management.
Nationally, through 'Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services', there was an emphasis on improving the quality and extent of priority habitats and building resilient ecological networks at a landscape scale. Mapping Wild Rusland was a pilot that could be used to develop an approach suitable for roll out across the National Park and Cumbria.
The project brought together habitat data for the first time to create a digital mapping (GIS) database that built a comprehensive picture of the extent, condition and current management of priority habitats in the Rusland Horizons scheme area.
Organisations and the local community can now utilise the data and maps to inform discussions and land management decisions regarding the maintenance and enhancement of the area’s wildlife and landscapes. Fundamentally, learnings can now be rolled out across the National Park and Cumbria, in addition to demonstrating the Lake District National Park’s and Cumbria Local Nature Partnership’s commitment to a landscape scale approach.
The data is available to view on the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre’s (CBDC) website.
The mapping process for translating the Rusland Horizons habitats survey data into GIS format comprised of three main stages:
- Mapping of the Phase 1 Habitat Survey
- Digitising habitat survey and target notes.
- Filling gaps using survey information and OS OpenData.
- Mapping of Farm Environment Plan (FEP) Habitat Features
- Digitising FEP habitat survey data
- Adding farm management agreement options as a separate layer
- Creating the Rusland habitat layer
- All the mapping habitat data were integrated and the outcome habitats were classified into three categories;
- Priority habitats
- Broad habitats
- Additional habitats
- Improved awareness of the current extent, condition and management of important / priority habitat located within the scheme area. Diversity and importance of habitat areas were highlighted.
- An integrated approach to collating, digitising and categorising habitat data was successfully piloted.
- The new digitised mapping data and maps will help farmers with submission of applications to Countryside Stewardship. In particular, the ability to view the spatial data across multiple land holdings may increase the possibility of successful agri-environment scheme applications in the future.