Pilot project encourages farmers to undertake biodiversity surveys to help improve wildlife habitats
New research has highlighted the benefits of biodiversity surveys on Welsh farms and the opportunities they can create to improve wildlife habitats.
A pilot project at Pendre Farm, a Farming Connect demonstration site at Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn, Aberystwyth, looked at several key areas, from woodland and hedgerows to watercourses and grassland, and provided recommendations on several potential ecosystem services that the sheep farm could contribute to, including nature recovery.
Pendre, farmed by Tom Evans and his family, is situated in a rural, upland area and benefits from close proximity to other farmland, providing important habitats for wildlife.
Lynfa Davies, of Farming Connect, who undertook the pilot survey, said improving connectivity between these areas will be important to allow movement of wildlife species.
“Woodlands and hedgerows are important examples of providing this connectivity, and any future opportunities to improve or expand on these resources needs to be made with a picture of what is happening beyond the farm boundaries,’’ she said.
“This highlights the benefit of possessing a habitat map for the farm, and an aim should be for all farmers to have access to similar maps. This will allow a more joined-up approach to the provision of ecosystem services across water catchments or parishes, and is likely to yield greater results.’’
“On an individual basis, a farm would benefit from understanding more about the wildlife that is currently supported in order to potentially implement new practices to encourage more wildlife”, Ms Davies added.
“This baseline level of information is lacking across most farms, but could really help to monitor change and the pace of that change.
“In order to demonstrate increase in biodiversity, you need to know what was there in the first place.’’
A series of more detailed surveys could be beneficial at Pendre, she suggested, including breeding birds, pollinators and other invertebrates such as dung beetles.
The so-called Phase 1 survey highlighted the presence of several habitats at Pendre, including hedgerows and woodland that could make a positive contribution to carbon sequestration, demonstrating the value of having a rich tapestry of habitats across the landscape.
“This is a potential area where more detailed measurements could be undertaken to provide information and advice on future management practices”, Ms Davies advised.
“For example, it was noted that all the hedgerows were neatly clipped, and this is likely to be carried out on an annual basis. In order to accumulate more carbon, it may be beneficial to cut hedgerows every second or third year, which will also contribute to habitat provision for a variety of wildlife.’’
Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
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