Over the last year Thomson Ecology have been providing ecological advice to Whitehill Town Council with regard to the management and monitoring of the Bordon Inclosure Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) in Hampshire. Following the departure of the army from Bordon in 2015, the site was transformed into a high quality SANG as part of two housing developments – Quebec Park and Louisburg.
The Council took over the management of Bordon Inclosure in January 2016. The primary purpose of the SANG is to provide greenspace for residents of the new housing developments to walk and exercise their dogs. The SANG provides an alternative location so residents are less likely to visit the Broxhead and Kingsley Commons Special Protection Area (SPA) which is designated as a site of international conservation importance because of its population of heathland birds, including Dartford warbler, woodlark and nightjar.
Thomson Ecology is assisting the Council to understand and implement requirements for management and monitoring of the SANG and for monitoring of the SPA. Management of the SANG is important to maintain its attractiveness for visitors, and monitoring of the SPA, which includes monitoring visitor numbers and the status of the heathland bird population, is required to determine whether or not the SANG is successfully alleviating visitor pressure to the SPA and that the heathland bird populations are continuing to thrive.
The protection of SPA sites for birds is underpinned by national legislation, commonly known as the Habitats Regulations, which fulfils our requirements, as a European Union member state, under the EU Birds Directive. One of the concerns held by ecologists and others with an interest in our natural heritage is that legislation such as this will become weakened when we are no longer an EU member under the watchful eye of the European Court of Justice.
This type of ecological mitigation has multiple benefactors including the bird populations which benefit from the monitoring efforts and resulting recommendations for improvements of the habitats on which they are dependent, and the local residents who are provided with a pleasant new natural greenspace. As such it is an interesting and rewarding project with which to be involved.