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© Patricia & Angus Macdonald/Aerographica
The approach employs a detailed desk study using digital data within a geographic information system (GIS) to identify Integrated Habitat Networks (IHNs). The spatial position and extent of functional integrated habitat networks were determined through a landscape ecology model from the BEETLE (Biological and Environmental Evaluation Tools for Landscape Ecology) suite of tools.
The BEETLE least-cost focal species approach negates the need to carry out a vast number of individual species analyses. The selection of the habitats to be modelled, and the species used to inform the analysis, were identified through a series of expert stakeholder workshops. The outputs can support the planning process, help prioritise conservation effort, prevent further fragmentation of biodiversity and aid connectivity of semi natural habitats.
BEETLE model analysis has been well referenced (Watts et al., 2005) and used in a variety of projects such as developing forest habitat networks across Scotland. The application of IHNs is the first time that the multiple habitat network approach has been used to solicit planning and development programmes in key areas.
Two IHN studies have been undertaken:
Watts, K., Humphrey, J.W., Griffiths, M., Quine, C.P. and Ray, D. (2005). Evaluating biodiversity in fragmented forest landscapes: principles (PDF-488K) . Forestry Commission Information Note 73. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.
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