Natural England required a Parkland Management Plan to inform the feasibility of maximising the biodiversity and heritage value of the historic Brampton Bryan Park, Herefordshire. The plan will from part of a Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship application.
BSG Ecology collated and interpreted existing ecological data, collected novel information to address information gaps, and delivered a series of reports incorporating practical habitat management initiatives to inform the Plan prepared by Lead Consultant, DE Landscape and Heritage Ltd..
Brampton Bryan is Grade II listed on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest and is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); both are national level designations. The former reflects the historic and landscape importance of the ancient deer park, and the latter its ecological importance. The SSSI was notified due to its wood pasture habitat, including numerous veteran trees and associated lichen and saproxylic invertebrate communities.
The main challenges with regard to the work were determining what was most relevant from the considerable volume of ecological data available for the site, the tight timescales in which survey and reporting needed to be completed, and the potential for conflict between proposed conservation measures and ongoing agricultural and forestry management and amenity and cultural heritage interests.
To inform the approach to the ecological work, the SSSI citation was reviewed and an extended Phase 1 habitat survey of the whole park completed by an experienced botanical surveyor. The relevance of the numerous recent and historical ecological data sets for the site were then critically reviewed based on both current baseline ecological conditions of the park and potential future management focussed on the SSSI interest features. A lack of structured survey data on reptiles, and the known presence of several reptile species on site was identified as a data gap, and Spring surveys were completed to determine species distribution and indicative population size. Our work was complemented by a lichen survey was commissioned from an external contractor along with ongoing invertebrate survey work shared by Natural England.
There was regular liaison with the client (DE Landscape and Heritage Ltd) throughout the process to ensure that the emerging findings of the survey work were understood and to ensure that any recommendations resulting were compatible with those from other specialists.
A range of practical recommendations were put forward through the Parkland Management Plan as to how the habitats and associated species (not limited to invertebrates and reptiles) could be better managed, and biodiversity gain achieved. This was supported by extended Phase 1 survey and reptile reports and a review of invertebrate data provided by Natural England and Butterfly Conservation.
The ecological work was completed to time and budget. The Parkland Management Plan, incorporating the ecological data and recommendations from the BSG reports as well as a range of information from other disciplines, was compiled by DE Landscape and Heritage (our client). The Plan is now being used to guide the future management of the park, as the basis to understand the cost of proposed restoration works, and to inform an application for Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship.
Deborah Evans of DE Landscape and Heritage commented “It has been a pleasure working with BSG Ecology on this project. The biodiversity management initiatives they have proposed will result in significant benefit to nature. We hope to work with BSG again in the future.”