These steps outline our ideas for how a parish map could be produced, but this is just one option, how you do it will depend on the expertise available in your group.
- Map the existing known habitats and designated sites in your parish or Neighbourhood Plan area. This is most simply done by requesting a desktop report from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre.
- Add local knowledge to the map through local species recording groups and organised surveys.
- Identify clusters of habitats and sites which form core areas i.e. areas where there are a few designated sites grouped together with other key wildlife habitats such as BAP priority habitats, ancient woodland or land in positive conservation management such as through agri-environment schemes. This may involve a degree of subjective judgement but should be achievable using the maps that the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre can provide.
- Identify where links can be formed between core areas. This will also be partly subjective and partly objective depending on the detail of the maps. For example a river and its flood-plain make a logical corridor between blocks of wetland habitat, or a hedgerow could be extended to link areas of woodland. Other types of corridors could include: areas of scrub, ditches, wildflower margins and unmown grass strips. It is also important to note areas that are a block in the network such as areas of intensive agriculture or existing or proposed developments.
- The links between blocks of habitat within core areas and between core areas may be direct physical links (corridors) but might also be stepping stone blocks of habitat. Many species are able to cross gaps between blocks of suitable habitat, but their ability to do so depends on the distance involved, the type of land-use between the habitat blocks and the characteristics of the species concerned. For example, a relatively immobile woodland species might require a direct physical link between two woodlands, but a mobile grassland species might be able to cross a few hundred metres of unsuitable habitat between grassland blocks. In this case, closely spaced stepping stone habitats would serve to link more widely spaced habitat blocks.
For more information on mapping wildlife where you live check out the following resources:
- Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's Parish Wildlife Map Toolkit
- Putting Local Wildlife on the Map
- Biodiversity Planning Toolkit
Here are some other sources of information that you could use to inform map, but some of it will probably need to be ground truthed:
- 1840's tithe map to show traditional land uses - from the County Council Record Office
- 1940's RAF post war aerial surveys & Luftwaffe pre-war view
- Environment Agency flood maps
- Tree preservation order information from your District Council
Once your map is created, use it to inform area specific policies. These can buffer the areas you have identified as important and ensure that more links are made. If you have identified an area where lots of priority or protected species have been recorded, you could see what types of habitat they require and write policies to ensure the right kind of habitat creation occurs. For example in an area where toads are known to breed you might like to encourage pond creation and installation of 'toad crossing' points. The wildlife friendly management of built or farmed land around and within the network will improve the ecological network’s effectiveness.