In 2010 exeGesIS was awarded this high-profile two-year contract to develop a condition monitoring methodology for non-statutory woodlands. The long-term aim of this project was to gain an insight into and monitor woodland condition in non-statutory sites. The project had three key strands:
- The development of a survey methodology that can rapidly and effectively assess the status and condition of non-statutory woodland habitats in England and Wales.
- The development of a sampling strategy, to identify a representative sample of woodland sites upon which to test the survey methodology.
- An assessment of landscape change in woodland cover in the immediate vicinity of the survey sites, making use of modern aerial photographs and historic data.
The survey methodology was tested on 100 sample sites spread across England and Wales and from a range of size classes. The main outputs from the work were a woodland condition assessment manual along with a bespoke survey database, a full project report and baseline data on the condition of non-statutory woodlands in England and Wales. The report included an extensive regression analysis of woodland attributes against condition, which enabled surrogates for favourable condition to be suggested.
The project report and woodland survey methodology can be downloaded from Defra's website. Further information from Mike Lush.