ARCHIVE: Observatory monitoring framework – indicator data sheet
Environmental impact: Landscape
Indicator DF1: Landscape features
Farmland habitat features are important components of the countryside and contribute to biodiversity by providing connections between farmland habitats. Field boundaries such as hedges, stone walls and grass banks, and farm ponds, can be valuable wildlife habitats, enhance the landscape and, in some cases, may be of historic importance.
Chart DF1 shows the lengths of boundaries and numbers of ponds in the last three Countryside Surveys.
- The length of managed hedgerows decreased by 6% (26,000km) with a large proportion becoming lines of trees or relict hedges (which increased significantly in length) reflecting a reduction in management intensity.
- The length of walls decreased in England by a small (1%) but significant amount from 82,420 to 81,500km, with the largest losses occurring in the uplands where walls form a characteristic landscape feature.
- There was a significant increase (5%) in the lengths of banks and strips to 42,000km. This habitat feature has been encouraged by agri-environment schemes and a greater awareness of the conservation and production advantages of grass strips and beetle banks.
- The number of ponds increased by 18% to an estimate 234,000. This increase was confined to lowland areas and in perticular the Easterly Lowlands.
All hedgerows mainly made of native species of tree and shrub, are now recognised as a Priority Habitat within the UK Biodiversity Plan. Several options under the Environmental Stewardship Entry Level Scheme are directed towards the conservation and maintenance of these features, whilst creation and restoration are possible under the Higher Level Scheme.
This indicator was updated in October 2009. It will be updated when data becomes available from the next Countryside Survey.
Further information and contact
Background information can be found in the accompanying fact sheet.
This is also a Biodiversity Strategy indicator.
For further queries or information on this indicator contact Defra's Observatory team on +44 (0) 1904 455229, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page last modified: 10 November, 2010
Page published: June, 2007