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Title: Ecological management of the Sussex South Downs : applications of GIS and landscape ecology.
Author: Burnside, Niall George.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3511 097X
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2000
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The South Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a nationally important conservation area, which contains a significant proportion (28%) of the South East calcareous grassland resource. The traditional calcareous grassland habitats characteristic of the Downland landscape have suffered significant losses since the Second World War, and the remaining sites are small, fragmented and confined to the more marginal areas, often the steeper slopes. The recreation and regeneration of these species-rich grasslands has become an important aim of regional conservation organisations, but the methods and mechanisms by which restoration sites could be identified has not been clarified. The work reported here aims, by the integration of landscape ecology and Geographical Information Systems, to develop a sound methodological approach for the targeting of sites for restoration and regeneration of calcareous grassland on the South Downs. The study examines temporal land use dynamics of the Downland and the predominant land conversion sequences are identified. Land management changes between 1971 and 1991 are assessed, and sites of unimproved grassland and those sites considered more marginal to modem intensive farming approaches are identified. The structure of the Downs landscape is investigated at the landscape, habitat and community level using fine-scale spatial data. Particular emphasis is placed upon the remaining calcareous resource and the extent of habitat loss and fragmentation is quantified. Analysis at the community level shows a clear relationship between community richness and habitat area. The analysis identifies key attributes of calcareous grassland sites and provides a baseline from which to formulate restoration targets and objectives. Finally, using fuzzy logic, a GIS-based Habitat Suitability Model is developed for use as a tool to support strategic landscape evaluation and to provide a method of identifying areas of search and site selection for targeted restoration. The approach models the relationships between specific grassland communities and landscape position, and is applied to the South Downs landscape in order to predict the nature of grassland communities likely to result from restoration efforts at specific sites.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Grassland; Fuzzy logic