The importance of creating robust ecological networks has recently become a key element of planning and development policy in the UK. Both the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper (2011) and National Planning Policy Framework (2012) emphasise the importance of having species rich ‘core’ areas of habitat linked by a resilient network of ‘wildlife corridors’ and ‘stepping stones’. The aim of this project is to assess whether restored woodlands adjacent to an active quarry are positively contributing to the local ecological network by acting as wildlife corridors.
Our study will take place at Whatley Quarry in Somerset. Hanson has installed woodland plantations designed to promote connectivity and increase biodiversity at this site. A project led by the Somerset Wildlife Trust to map ecological networks has highlighted the potential importance of these woodland plantations to provide ecological connectivity between three nearby woodlands: Asham Wood SSSI, Melcombe Wood and Tedbury covert. Mells Valley SAC , located just north of the quarry, was primariliy designated for its exceptional greater horseshoe bat breeding population, comprising roughly 12% of the UK population. The recently planted woodland habitats around the quarry are likely to serve as useful connecting habitat corridors between Mells Valley and the above mentioned woodlands.
This project aims to assess the importance of Whatley’s woodland habitat corridors, as identified by the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s ecological network map, in promoting movement of woodland specialist species through the landscape. Our results may inform future management recommendations on improving the efficacy of these important wildlife corridors and perhaps how best to implement new corridors where required.