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Grassland BAP Inventory, Essex

Applied Ecology Ltd has recently completed a project to help determine the extent, distribution and character of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) grassland habitats across Essex on behalf of the Essex Biodiversity Project and Essex County Council.  The study comprised two distinct elements: the production of a ‘Grassland Inventory’ in GIS format linked to an Access Database; and a grassland character study.

Grassland Inventory

Through a combination of selecting, filtering, editing and overlaying various data-sets (e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Local Wildlife Sites and grassland BAP inventory), and the interrogation of MasterMap and high resolution aerial photographs, we were able to produce a single GIS base layer of potential high quality grassland sites within the county.  This was linked to an Access database which contained detailed information on each of the grassland sites. In total 288 individual grassland sites were identified covering 1,764ha of the county.  By interrogating the map and associated attribute data, the distribution of grassland sites was reported at County and District scales, including details of grassland types present, and their relationship with existing Environmental Stewardship Schemes.

Distribution of sites included in the grassland inventory

Distribution of sites included in the grassland inventory

Grassland Character Study

This part of the study involved the analysis of plant data collected as part of the 1984 Essex Meadow Survey.  By using TWINSPAN and Ordination software, the 392 quadrat samples were analysed and grouped into distinct and ecologically meaningful grassland community types.  A total of 11 distinct vegetation types were finally identified within the data.  The various grassland types were described in terms of their botanical character, including a list of common and rare species, and within a national context using the National Vegetation Classification (NVC).

TWINSPAN Dendrogram

TWINSPAN Dendrogram

 

The Essex BAP Grassland Study report is available on-line at http://www.essexbiodiversity.org.uk/Default.aspx?pageid=149