A study has been compiled for the Biodiversity 2020 Terrestrial Biodiversity Group (TBG) which focused on 159 National Character Areas and the potential to add or restore habitats within these sites. As well as looking at how to achieve this, they assessed prescriptions to ensure that habitats could be restored without environmental conflicts of interest (for example saltmarsh creation on the same space as floodland grazing).
It can be difficult to assess where habitat creation and restoration will be beneficial and most effective. The aim of Biodiversity 2020 is to increase priority habitats around the country by at least 200,000 ha. This should be achieved by habitat restoration and also habitat creation to reverse the decline in protected/notable species populations, and encouraging biodiversity.
Each NCA was assessed according to significance: 0 indicated no significance; 1 shows local significance; whilst 2 showed an NCA of national significance. The assessment was dependant on specific environmental requirements (for example arable field margins needed to be calculated in order to estimate the area needed to protect declining bird species).
The study seemed to indicate that there was a higher density of significant habitat areas in the south-west, whilst the Midlands and the North seemed to have the most fragmented areas. These areas had the potential to be enhanced through restoration of existing habitats, and habitat creation to enhance connectivity and green infrastructure.
The study has recommended that continued assessment and study would be required to ensure that habitat restoration and creation is focused and most effective. Prescriptions and schemes for natural habitats will need to be adapted as data is updated to ensure that effective measures are implemented.