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Title: The role of suitable alternative natural greenspace strategy in protecting high-value wildlife sites
Author: Allinson, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 4160
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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The associated visitor disturbance from new housing developments surrounding the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) is a potential threat to the breeding success of three Annex 1 ground-nesting bird species: nightjar Caprimulgus europeus, woodlark Lullula arborea and Dartford warbler Sylvia undata. In response to this threat from development, a bespoke planning policy - Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace Strategy (SANGS) was developed to mitigate against this increase in disturbance within the Thames Basin Heaths Zone of Influence. The strategy established greenspaces to divert people from visiting the SPA. A mix of social science methods was used to evaluate SANGS and the theories that underpin it, using a Leisure Constraints Theory Framework. A postal survey with self-completed questionnaires provided quantitative data that identified the pattern of greenspace visited by residents living in new developments. Significantly more residents visited SANGs than the SPA, and significantly fewer respondents visited their nearest greenspace, and they also travelled further than expected. The strategy did not appear to be attracting dog walkers away from the SPA, which is a policy failure. A logistic regression model showed that not having prior knowledge of the area's greenspaces, distance from home, good infrastructure and having a companion all significantly influenced greenspace choice. Focus groups were used to provide a deeper insight into the pattern of greenspace use revealed in the survey. Awareness was identified as an important additional factor that affected the choice of greenspace. Incorporating visiting greenspace into visits to other destinations explained theunexpected longer distances travelled by residents. Policy recommendations emerging from the survey and focus groups are: to raise awareness of and educate residents about SANGs, provide more greenspace within an optimal walking distance of new developments and provide more substantial areas of greenspace suitable for visits by car. The semi-structured interviews concluded that the minimum footpath length of 2.3km was impractical on small sites and that a minimum size should be included in the criteria for SANGS. SANGS was thought to provide potential opportunities for linking greenspace provision with wellbeing and biodiversity agendas as well as mitigation for visitor disturbance. Providing play areas in or nearby SANGs would enable families and children to reconnect with nature. The breeding numbers of all three priority bird species have not decreased since the implementation of SANGS which suggests that it may be providing mitigation for the increased visitor disturbance, although not necessarily in a way that was predicted by the underlying assumptions.
Supervisor: Poppy, Guy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available