Fewer Hampshire Local Sites “in positive management”

I’ve recently received a report from Hampshire County Council showing the proportion of Local Wildlife Sites in positive management. This work is the successor to NI197 the original Local Sites National Indicator created under the previous Government. The Coalition axed the National Indicator series arguing it was a waste of money, but decided to get Local Authorities to continue to monitor Local Site management status under the new “Single Data Set” approach.

It’s a long and detailed report, which I can send anyone who is interested. The headline is that the proportion of Local Sites in positive management in 2011 is over 2% down on the 201o figure. Most of this reduction is because sites have moved from being known to be in positive management, to “management unknown”.It’s worth noting that during the NI197 period, overall the proportion of Local Sites in positive management increased by 1.38%. So all the good work undertaken during the previous 5 year period has been more than wiped out this past year.

It’s also worth noting that although the overall figure for Local Sites in positive management is 41.6% in 2011, for privately owned sites it is 36% (down 5% from 2010).

As you would expect, small sites are less likely to be in positive management than large sites. For Local Sites under 2ha in size, 33% were known to be in positive management in 2011, compared with 48% of sites over 50ha.

For grasslands, 40.5% of all sites were known to be in positive management in 2010. In 2011 the proportion was 42.9%. This is good news, albeit slightly tempered by the proportion of Local Sites “known not to be in positive management” increasing from 7.7% to 10.1%.

These data just refer to Hampshire – they are fed into CLG along with everywhere else. If I can find the national report when it’s published, I’ll post about it then.

Why does this matter? Because Local Sites are where nearly half the priority habitats occur (those that occur outside SSSIs), and the Government have committed in Biodiversity 2020 the England Biodiversity Strategy to ensure that 90% of priority habitat is in favourable or recovering condition by 2020. NI197 indicator of “positive management” is quite a  useful proxy for favourable/recovering condition. It shows we have a very long way to go to achieving the 90% figure, and at the moment, in Hampshire at any rate, things are moving in the opposite direction.

Thanks to Susan Bragg at Hampshire County Council for the data.

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About grasslandstrust

The Grasslands Trust is the only national UK charity that focuses entirely on saving grasslands that are valuable because they are rich in wildlife, history, or for other reasons.
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2 Responses to Fewer Hampshire Local Sites “in positive management”

  1. Paul Beevers says:

    Miles, I might be misunderstanding something but in para 2 you seem to conclude that because the percentage of sites under KNOWN positive management is down 2% that they must have declined? Surely the absence of an “official” check does not by itself prove that is the case? Could it be that the county too is not checking and the sites may still be under positive management unknown to the Council?

  2. milesking says:

    You’re right Paul and thanks for pointing that out.

    One of the problems with interpreting the NI 197 and now the Single Data Set data on management of Local Sites, is that, even after 6 years of work, there is still a gaping hole in our knowledge of the management status of Local Sites. With the cuts to Local Authorities now affecting expenditure on environmental matters (the person who had been working on this project is leaving Hampshire County Council as her post has been axed) it is reasonable to assume that more sites will fall into the “management unknown” status in future.

    Having said that it is worth noting the substantial increase in grasslands “known not to be in positive management” in 2011, compared with 2010.

    But there’s also a broader issue, which is that we will not know whether the Biodiversity 2020 target, to get 90% of priority habitat into into favourable or recovering condition by 2020, has been achieved or not unless Local Wildlife Sites are monitored effectively. And in that respect, we know less about their status this year than we did last year.

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