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Title: Management and monitoring in protected areas : a case study in the New Forest National Park : the effects upon valley mire and heathland communities
Author: Lovegrove, Alexander Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6063 2018
Awarding Body: Bournemouth University
Current Institution: Bournemouth University
Date of Award: 2017
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Conservation depends heavily on protected areas, and many of these must be intensively managed in order to maintain important habitats and species. However, few conservation actions can be properly described as evidence-based, and knowledge of the effects of different types of management is necessary to improve conservation success. The New Forest National Park, Hampshire, UK, has been subject to intensive management which has not been scientifically investigated. In this thesis I assess management and monitoring effectiveness within two important open habitats: valley mires and heathlands. Research aims are to determine the impact that long term management (including differences between cutting and burning) has had on heathland communities in the New Forest, uncover the effects of restoration programmes on both biotic and abiotic components of valley mires, and to identify whether the current monitoring practice through Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) can detect changes in both habitats and serve as a basis for adaptive management. Data were collected in the field for both heathland and mire habitats using space-for-time substitutions, where sites of different ages since management intervention were compared. The plant community and soil chemical properties were assessed using randomly distributed quadrats within plots set up at each site location. A total of 30 heathland plots and 60 mire plots were established. Results showed that different heathland management resulted in great differences in the vegetation community, but with few changes as sites aged following management. The block nature of both management activities resulted in relatively uniform ericaceous age-structures within individual sites, and particularly low species diversity was recorded for burnt sites. CSM in heathland habitats is was poor at detecting changes in the habitats, but attribute sub-scores did demonstrate some differences. Analyses of mire restorations showed mixed results with abiotic conditions showing almost no changes between degraded and restored areas. Some minor differences emerged in the vegetation community, such as a decrease in Carex panicea following restoration and an increase in some Sphagnum species, such as S. papillosum. This work suggests that restoration has largely failed to achieve its goals. Techniques from the established monitoring program failed to show any changes following restoration and lacked the precision that detailed quantitative surveys showed. It was highly ineffective as a tool to monitor restoration work, calling into question its widespread use for such tasks in the New Forest. Current monitoring must be improved substantially if a move to effective and adaptive management is to be achieved.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available