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The project aims to link existing priority habitats – lowland heath and sessile oak woods – through reversion of conifer and agricultural land working with the public and private landowners. This will increase the resilience of priority habitats by increasing the size and joining them together.
2015-16 was the first year of the Greater Quantock Landscape Improvement Scheme, a five-year scheme, which will link existing areas and increase existing area of priority habitat through the improvement or reversion of conifer and agricultural land. The project will increase the resilience of priority habitats by creating direct links or stepping stone as well as direct increase to the area covered. This will increase the opportunities for species migration between areas. To date the project has undertaken conifer removal from sites and ground preparation works, including grinding, nutrient removal and scarifying allowing heathland species to colonise.
The next phase of the project will undertake nutrient removal and turf removal from agricultural land prior to soil preparation and planting of sessile oak and heathland species. There are eight project areas within the scheme which aims to restore / create 94Ha of lowland heath and 64Ha of oak woodland habitats.
The project has benefitted from a long lead in time (3 years) which has allowed the project officer to work with landowners ensuring that reversion works are built into forest / farm plans and can be included when landowners are considering entry into agri-environment schemes.
Quantock Hills AONB Partnership
Quote from project manager
“This is a wonderful opportunity to create bigger, better linked areas of special habitats such as heathland and oak woods not only for the benefit of wildlife but also to enhance the landscape across the whole of the Quantock Hills.” Iain Porter, Quantock Hills AONB Service
Quote from participant
“Working with the AONB Service has created this exciting opportunity to kick start the creation of more heathland as part of our approved Forest Plan for St Audries woodland and the removal of the stumps will make the area much easier to manage into the future ensuring its longevity and condition.” Nick Salter, Forestry Commission
Key search words: Habitat, resilience, creation, link
Photo Credits: Birdsfoot trefoil, St Audries Mulching and St Audries Mulching – Quantock Hills AONB