Strategic aspects of forest habitat network for Wales

Understanding open non-woodland habitats

Expanding woodland habitat networks may potentially disrupt or impede the functioning of open (non-woodland habitat) networks.  Therefore, there is a need to understand the distribution of open habitat networks in Wales and to identify any potential conflict areas. The results of this analysis will give a good strategic knowledge of the open non-woodland habitat networks in Wales. Analysis will be based around the overlap between these networks and woodland networks, which will start to show potential areas of conflict.  The potential for negative effects of woodland habitat networks would be resolved at a more local scale.

Assessment of marginal network areas

A further assessment of areas that have considerable woodland cover but fragmented into a large number of networks will be undertaken. These areas may have a great deal of potential for biodiversity conservation but are not highlighted in the previous work.

Large-scale linkages and climate change

The global mean temperature increase of 0.6oC has changed rainfall patterns, caused a rise of sea level and increased the frequency of extreme events. It is predicted that global temperatures will rise further by 2 to 4.5oC by 2100.  In Wales there are predictions of increased warming in the summer months - more intense in the south and east compared to the north and west. Wales could see significant increases in winter rainfall, a 50% reduction in summer rainfall, with snowfall becoming a rarity. These climatic changes will have a significant impact on the biodiversity of Wales, and on the wider landscape, beyond semi-natural habitats, due to adjustments in the intensively managed land within agricultural systems.

The project proposes the mitigation of climate change through the development of improved functional connectivity between key networks across the main biogeographic axes of Wales, through the use of large-scale linkages or corridors. The linkages will be long term and to an extent aspirational, but will offer the opportunity to develop a management framework that explicitly addresses the issue of climate change beyond the scale of Core and Focal Networks.

Strategic validation of networks and linkages

Species records held by the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), and information on protected sites held by CCW will be used to further validate the existing networks and the proposed large-scale linkages. The selected species will represent important species for woodland and open habitats in Wales.