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Habitat Creation in Pond

Habitat Creation & Management Plans

The process of habitat creation, enhancement, repair, mitigation and management is an integral part of the ecological consultancy services we provide.

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What is Habitat Creation?

Habitat creation is the provision of new, or the extension of existing, ecosystems, with the aim of enhancing biodiversity and the associated benefits that come from that. Habitat creation and enhancement requires a careful assessment of a range of local factors, as well as the needs of the stakeholders in order to improve biodiversity at the site. This includes assessing local conditions and wildlife, in order to maintain diverse, healthy and sustainable populations of plants and animals.

Phlorum provides a full range of habitat creation and management plans across southern England, including Sussex, London, Surrey, Kent, Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset.

How the Habitat Creation and Management Process Works

Habitat creation needs to be feasible, effective, and appropriate. Clearly, a large infrastructure project will need a different approach than a small residential development.

Urban sites are often constrained by restricted space and multiple stakeholders with high levels of interest and influence. This is often an overriding factor in designing habitat creation works for biodiversity. With a little careful planning, biodiversity can be maximised in even small areas that need to maintain a particular aesthetic in order to keep clients happy.

The process of habitat creation and/or enhancement follows the steps below.

Habitat Survey

In order to deliver ecological enhancements, it’s important to understand what species and features are already present in the immediate and surrounding area. A Preliminary Ecological Appraisal involves an initial habitat survey that can provide this information. For some projects, a more basic scoping survey will be sufficient.

Habitat Design

This must meet the development’s requirements while also ensuring that the habitats and species that are to be retained, enhanced, or relocated are appropriately managed. Habitats and buildings should complement each other. It’s no use designing a feature that later proves to be incompatible with the site’s use or for species that are not going to benefit.

Habitat Creation

The retention and enhancement of existing habitats should always be the priority. However, often, in areas that have previously been developed, there is an opportunity to create new habitats. This would always be guided by the species and habitats found locally, and the conditions on site.

At its simplest, this could be a change in habitat management that enables more woody and perennial vegetation to develop in an area that has been intensively cultivated.

Types Of Habitat That Can Be Created

As well as the physical elements of habitat creation, that provide nesting sites and shelter for various species, a great deal can be achieved at a relatively low cost through planting.

Whilst native planting undoubtedly going to provide the best opportunities for native invertebrates, it may not provide the visual interest that is wanted in urban areas. Luckily, many non-native plants can be just as useful when undertaking habitat creation works, by providing comparable sources of nectar and foliage for food and shelter.

Common habitats that can usually be created with relative ease as part of proposed development works include the following:

Ponds

Ponds can be created by excavating voids or allowing land to flood by diverting a watercourse.

Grassland

Grassland can simply be created by altering the mowing regime or by replanting with meadow species.

Woodland

Planting trees demonstrates a long-term commitment to enhancing biodiversity in any scheme. As the climax ecosystem in most UK locations, woodlands are some of the most diverse habitats around and their creation should be encouraged wherever possible.

Refugia/hibernacula

These are relevant for almost all types of development and can include piles of logs, rocks, bricks and leaves that provide refuge and hibernation sites for reptiles and amphibians.

Invertebrate banks

Even small changes in soil level and sparsely vegetated earth create new habitats for a range of invertebrates, including solitary bees.

Bug hotels

These comprise different materials for insects to bury into or hide under and can also be incorporated into many landscaping areas with relative ease.

Artificial Badger setts

If a badger sett might need to be moved from a development site, this can often be done under the strict requirements of an appropriate licence.

Bird boxes

These provide additional nesting sites and can be a useful way of adding biodiversity to urban areas.

Bat boxes

Roosting habitats for a range of bat species can be provided with the addition of artificial sites that can be attached inconspicuously to trees and buildings

Bee bricks

Pre-formed bricks containing a range of hole diameters provide suitable breeding sites for a range of bee species.

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