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Natural England identifies greener opportunities for wildlife and network resilience

Under the UK Government's Natural Environment White Paper 2011 the areas of vegetation growing alongside roads and railways – known as green corridors – are to be enhanced as part of a £3 million pilot project fronted by Natural England together with other agencies. Using a range of mapping datasets they not only identified ways to improve wildlife habitats, but developed new ways to manage vegetation to improve weather resilience of our extensive transport networks.

What were the challenges?

  • Assessing thousands of miles of green corridors, land and road infrastructure.
  • Undertaking a pilot project in two Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) – Humberhead Levels and Morecambe Bay representing different habitats and management opportunities.
  • Identifying problems such as invasive species, flooding, drainage and tree/leaf fall.
  • Identifying areas for improvement, such as coppicing of woodland, water management and restoring grassland.
  • Carrying out roadside vegetation maintenance under cost and time constraints.

What was the solution?

This project will make these areas better than ever, helping our vital pollinators by providing a home and food for them to thrive, as well as improving the weather resilience of our transport infrastructure which will boost our economy.

Elizabeth Truss, Envrionment Secretary

During the pilot project, a range of spatial datasets (underpinned by PSMA and OS data) across government and infrastructure providers identified potential opportunities for biodiversity gain, ecological connectivity, ecosystem services, and network resilience within the transport corridor of the two NIAs. The first stage mapped out priority habitats, flood risk areas, water quality and potential synergies with adjacent landholders along the transport corridors of both NIAs. Hotspots were then identified where there was potential to trial new approaches to vegetation management.

What were the outcomes?

  • Collaborative working amongGovernment Agencies, infrastructure providers and land owners.
  • Managing the impact of severe weather on our transport infrastructure.
  • Promoting a greater diversity of plant species and benefiting pollinators such as bees.
  • Encouraging more wildlife-friendly green corridors that also reduces the risk of them entering the roads.
  • Creating more wetland to store CO2 and provide wildlife habitat and reduce flooding.
  • Boosting our economy and increasing Britain’s biodiversity.
  • Potential to extend to other areas.

The products used

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