The use of landscape-scale botanical data to implement ecological enrichment in the Birmingham and Black Country Nature Improvement Area.
A full botanical survey of Birmingham and the Black Country (Trueman et al., in press) was undertaken between 1997 and 2011, accumulating almost ¼ million records. This provided a database of the distribution of 1449 plant taxa over 715 kilometre squares.
Coincidence mapping of key species for nature conservation or ‘axiophytes’ (Lockton, 2011) has been used to identify and delimit the botanical aspects of the ecological core areas (Lawton et al., 2010) of the conurbation. These have been mapped to attempt to describe the extant ecological network of Birmingham and the Black Country (Fig.1).
Multivariate analysis of the dataset (Hill et al., 2005) has allowed the division of the conurbation into zones according to the predominance of floras associated with industrial, residential and semi-natural habitats and subdivisions thereof which has illuminated the important role of certain features such as canals in the ecological network and suggested strategies for their enhancement.
In 2012 Birmingham and the Black Country was awarded the status of a Nature Improvement Area with the aim of creating an urban landscape permeated by a network of high quality greenspace rich in wildlife and enjoyed by the people who live and work here. The Flora analysis has been used as an input into implementing this aim. On the basis of the information in the analyses extensions of the existing core areas have been proposed in order to form a coherent network (Fig. 2). The paper will discuss the analysis and its current application in the development and implementation of the NIA aims.
Hill, M.O. & Šmilauer, P. (2005) TWINSPAN for Windows version 2.3. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology & University of South Bohemia, Huntingdon & Ceske Budejovice.
Lawton, J.H., Brotherton, P.N.M., Brown, V.K., Elphick, C., Fitter, A.H., Forshaw, J., Haddow, R.W., Hilborne, S., Leafe, R.N., Mace, G.M., Southgate, M.P., Sutherland, W.J., Tew, T.E., Varley, J., and Wynne, G.R. (2010) Making Space for Nature: a review of England’s wildlife sites and ecological network. Report to Defra.
Lockton, A. (2011) Axiophyte research BSBI Recorder, 15: 9.
Trueman, I.C., Poulton, M.W. & Reade, P.L. (in press) Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country. Pisces Publications on behalf of EcoRecord, The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country and the Birmingham and Black Country Botanical Society