Birkbeck Lectures 2014: Access and Nature Conservation on lowland heaths


Access and Nature Conservation on lowland heaths

part of the series 'This blasted heath–the future of lowland heathland, acid grassland and mire'

Partner Event @Birkbeck University of London, Lecture theatre B36

Free public lecture series, Autumn 2014.

18:30 Friday 24th October 2014

lowland heathland

In Act I of “Macbeth”, Shakespeare used a heath near Forres as the forbidding setting of a supernatural encounter. Heaths have long had a bad public image. Most heaths are ancient. They were established when woodland was cleared in places with an underlying geology forming an impoverished acidic soil, and maintained by traditional practices. However, they are diminishing throughout the country, even if pockets are still to be found in the southern counties and in the suburbs of London. These remnant heathlands are now much valued as natural open spaces. They are precious because they support a specialised biota, some of which is not found elsewhere. Loss may occur from ecological succession following the neglect of traditional management, or conversion to agriculture or to urban development. How can the remaining patches be saved? How can these important areas be managed to best effect? Management practices in different sites will be discussed and compared. Current problems will be highlighted and specialised conditions for particular groups of plants and animals discussed.

Oct 24th. Access and Nature Conservation on lowland heaths. Dr Durwen Liley, Footprint Ecology.

Durwyn Liley is a director at Footprint Ecology. Access and nature conservation are themes of much of Footprint Ecology’s work and Durwyn’s research interests relate particularly to disturbance to birds. At Footprint Ecology, Durwyn has worked on projects across the country, working with local authorities, NGOs and agencies to assess the impacts of housing growth, changes in access and implications for nature conservation. Prior to Footprint Ecology, Durwyn worked for Natural England, Butterfly Conservation and the RSPB.

Many heathland sites are located in areas with high human population density and heathlands play an important role for local people in providing greenspace. Durwyn will consider how people use the heaths, why they visit and the importance of access. He will also consider the extent to which surrounding urban development and high levels of recreation can impact on the conservation interest. The challenge is then how to balance the need for access and the impacts caused by urban development and recreation, and the lecture reviews how this balance has been achieved.

This free public lecture is part of a series hosted by Geography Environment and Development Studies (GEDS), Birkbeck University of London. The lectures are suitable for those who may be considering, or undertaking, university courses in ecology, biological conservation or related subjects. They will interest environmental and ecological practitioners, natural historians, wildlife organisations and others with similar interests.

The lectures are supported by GEDS, Birkbeck University of London and would not be possible otherwise. They are organised and promoted by the Ecology and Conservation Studies Society, with assistance from the Linnean Society of London.

Image (c) Durwyn Liley