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Title: An above and below ground approach to understanding the impacts of the cultivation and management of short rotation coppice willow on biodiversity and ecosystem processes
Author: Hesford, Nicholas James
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 1444
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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Concerns over anthropogenic climate change coupled with reduced availability and rising prices of domestic fossil fuels have led a drive towards a low carbon economy and have seen increasing interest from Governments in the development of renewable energy technologies. In 2009, a Government strategy proposed by the Renewable Energies Directive, outlined that by 2020, 15% of the UK’s total energy consumption should come from renewable resources. Part of the initiative in meeting this target, and in helping mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, includes the increased production of energy crops, such as Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow (Salix spp.). Although SRC willow cultivation could contribute towards the renewable energies target set for 2020, its growth on a large-scale would result in significant changes to the agricultural landscape. Through employing both an above and below ground approach this thesis demonstrates how the cultivation and management of SRC willow can impact upon locally occurring ecological communities. The conversion of traditional pastoral farming systems to SRC willow is shown to be beneficial for avian communities from a biodiversity perspective, although the thesis highlights the potential for this novel crop to act as an ecological trap for locally breeding species. Furthermore, the results of this research illustrate how changing the management of the SRC willow crops, to facilitate the bioremediation of municipal wastewaters, affect the composition of invertebrate communities that have not previously been studied in this system, and can lead to changes to an essential ecosystem process, decomposition. Together, these findings provide a novel insight into the agro-ecology of commercial SRC willow cultivation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available