The Environmental Change Network at Alice Holt Research Forest
Lead Author: Suzanne Benham
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Lead Author: Suzanne Benham
The Environmental Change Network (ECN) was established in 1992 to provide a framework for monitoring the effects of a range of environmental drivers on freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. The Alice Holt ECN site represents the Forestry Commission’s commitment to this long-term collaborative programme. This Research Note reviews data collected at the Alice Holt site over 14 years of operation from 1992–2006. Evidence of the impacts of climate change, pollution and their interaction with land management are explored. Monitoring of air quality has demonstrated a decline in the levels of some harmful pollutants and this is reflected in a reduction in soil acidity and resulting changes in plant communities. Meteorological data provide evidence that the climate is changing with significant trends in summer rainfall and winter cold days. Changes in moth populations have been linked to changes in climate while the decline in some butterfly species is identified as a possible consequence of reduction in open space. In contrast, this reduction has benefited several species of ground beetle, which prefer shady conditions. Bird surveys have enabled assessment and identification of possible causes of changes to the woodland bird populations, including those species subject to Biodiversity Action Plans. Similar trends are becoming apparent across the network, providing a robust early warning system for detecting changes in natural ecosystems as the effects of climate change set in.
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