Intergrated Habitat Network mapping and analysis
Topic of the practice
To map the connectivity of habitat networks (wetland, woodland and grassland), identify the impact of proposed land use change on the connectivity of existing habitat networks, and identify opportunities to increase the connectivity of networkls through land management and new habitat creation.
Good Practice Information
Integrated Habitat Network (IHN) mapping and analysis is a GIS based decision support tool which aims to help land use planners, land managers and others protect and improve habitat networks. It is based on the principle that where habitats are functionally connected they can support a greater diversity of species, facilitate movement of species between suitable habitat patches, and help prevent habitat fragmentation. A detailed description of the approach can be found at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/INFD-7S9ARR . Costs required to implement the mapping and analysis difficult to qualitify. It relies on up-to-date, digitised habitats and species information - so if this is not available there is significant cost associated with data capture. Running the analysis is relatively straightforward, but expertise is needed to analyse and apply the IHN model in practice. The main cost is therefore training and capacity building.
Evidence of success
IHN modelling is becoming widely applied to land use planning and land management in the UK. For Wetland habitats, where functional connectivity to allow species to move between suitable habitat patches is important, it can be very helpful in helping planners and land managers identify where connectivity needs to be protected, and where newtworks could be expanded. It has been used in Scotland and the rest of the UK to inform masterplanning and reduce the impact of development on habitats and species, and also to help target resources to where they can deliver the greatest benefits. As the approach is still developing it is difficult to say at this stage what the overall impact has been. However, it has been welcomed by professionals in the field.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Annex completed on: 06-01-2012