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Habitats and Rare Priority Protected Species (HaRPPS)

Home research Habitats and Rare Priority Protected Species (HaRPPS)


harpps_screenshot_sample320.gifHaRPPS is a combined information retrieval system and decision support tool to provide information and guidance for managing habitats and rare, priority, and protected species of forests and woodlands in Britain. It is a web-based application, that will be accessible for use by forest managers and the general public, through a registration procedure.

Information about 131 woodland species has been assembled, including:

  • Mammals (22)
  • Birds (37)
  • Herptiles (5)
  • Invertebrates (29)
  • Vascular plants (15)
  • Lower plants (23)

The web application allows users to run several types of query:

  • Species autecological information, including – habitat preference, range, dispersal, food etc.
  • Which species are likely to be in a given location and habitat type
  • Impact of different types of forest operation (positive and negative) on species in a given location and woodland habitat
  • Species likely to be present in a particular locality and which may colonise a new or restored woodland type in a given location.

The system is currently being developed to assess the impacts of forest operations on species and habitat disturbance, and to assess opportunities for habitat improvement.

The need for HaRPPS

For sustainable forest management

The Forestry Commission is committed to delivering sustainable forest management. This requires forests to be managed in a way that does not damage resources now or in the future. This applies to all forests and woodlands managed by the Forestry Commission and to private woodlands managed with the support of public funds through woodland grants.

For nature conservation and public benefit

An estimated 500 million visits are made annually to UK woodlands. Both visitors and the wider population believe that forests provide an important public benefit in providing habitat for plants and animals. The nature conservation function of forests, including the sensitive management of forests for biodiversity, and the management of rare species and habitats, is therefore of major social consequence. HaRPPS is a tool for managers to improve rare and threatened species management, to help deliver this important social benefit.

To reduce disturbance

Recent amendments to UK legislation have emphasised the need to reduce the impact and disturbance of land management operations on rare and protected species and their habitats. Indeed, for certain species, failure to comply may result in prosecution and heavy fines. Consequently there is an urgent need for easily accessible information on the management procedures which reduce the risk of damage and disturbance to species and habitats and which promote management to improve key woodland habitats.

Funders and partners

HaRPPS was identified as a key system for the delivery of information about forest biodiversity in Britain. The development of the system is funded as part of the Forestry Commission’s Decision Support Systems for Forest Ecology programme.

Status and review

The project was started in 2004. A prototype system was developed and tested in 2005 and the first beta version of HaRPPS was deployed 2008, followed by HaRPPS v2.0.3. in 2010.

Beta version.


Ray, D., Broome, A., Brunt, A., Brown, T., Mason, A. & Vials, C. (2007). An information system to support sustainable management of Habitats and Rare Priority and Protected Species (HaRPPS) in British forests. In Sustainable Forestry in Theory and Practice (ed K.M. Reynolds). USDA Forest Service, Corvalis, US. ISBN 978-0-9789478-0-4, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Ray, D. & Broome, A.C. (2007). An information retrieval system to support management of Habitats and Rare Priority and Protected Species(HaRPPS) in Britain. In Sustainable Forestry: from Monitoring and Modelling to Knowledge Management and Policy Science (eds K. Reynolds, A. Thomson, M. Köhl, M. Shannon, D. Ray & K. Rennolls). CAB International, Wallingford, UK.


If you would like more information about HaRPPS, or wish to try and test the prototype then please contact:

Duncan Ray