03 Mar A wildlife altas for Redesdale
Redesdale supports many habitats and species of local, national and international importance but good quality data on these is often missing. Many widespread species are often under-recorded and many areas of semi-natural habitat have not been properly classified and mapped. This problem affects the entire valley but is particularly obvious in land outside of the Northumberland National Park, where in the past there has been less impetus to collect environmental data.
The lack of data for the area causes practical problems for conservation activity within Redesdale and presents a threat to the valley’s natural heritage. If the locations of key species are not known then land management practices cannot be tailored to their requirements, leading to long-term declines. Worse still, important areas for species may be inadvertently destroyed because their presence is not known. Good quality environmental data is also needed to inform the work of local planning authorities when determining planning applications.
Baseline data is essential if a change in populations of some key species (such as bees) is to be monitored. Decision making and targeting of resources (such as agri-environment money) frequently uses national data sets, such as national habitat inventories or species data held on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN). This means that areas such as Redesdale miss out on potential sources of income because their nature conservation importance is not formally recognised. Even when data is available, there may be issues about how it is collected and stored which can cause difficulties in accessing or using the information.
This surveying project will go some way to address the lack of data and will engage local people as much as possible in doing so. Effort will be put in to train and support new voluntary recorders, make better use of existing recording effort, and resolve existing issues around the way that data is stored and shared.
The project will aim to:
- To improve the number and geographic coverage of species records from Redesdale, particularly for species of high local importance and/or species for which there are obvious data gaps.
- Improve knowledge of the location and condition of priority habitats in Redesdale
- To increase the amount of biodiversity data available to local planning authorities
- To increase the numbers of new biological recorders active in Redesdale, including encouraging new recorders from outside of the valley
- Make better use of existing recorders and recording groups to gather records in Redesdale and to encourage greater participation in these group
- Standardise habitat recording so that data can be used on national inventories and by local partners.
The project will also make wildlife data available to local residents and visitors through an inter-active website to create a wildlife atlas for Redesdale, where it will be possible for individuals to access information and also share sightings by recording where they saw particular species and adding photos.