Redhead, J., Cuevas-Gonzalez, M., Smith, G., Gerard, F., Pywell R. 2012. “Assessing the effectiveness of scrub management at the landscape scale using rapid field assessment and remote sensing”. Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 97, pp. 102-108.
KEYWORDS: Calcareous grassland, Habitat restoration, Image analysis, Condition assessment.
ABSTRACT: Controlling scrub encroachment is a major challenge for conservation management on chalk grasslands. However, direct comparisons of scrub removal methods have seldom been investigated, particularly at the landscape scale. Effective monitoring of grassland scrub is problematic as it requires simultaneous information on large scale patterns in scrub cover and fine-scale changes in the grassland community. This study addressed this by combining analysis of aerial imagery with rapid field surveys in order to compare the effectiveness of four scrub management strategies on Defence Training Estate Salisbury Plain, UK.
Study plots were sited within areas undergoing management and in unmanaged controls. Controls showed dramatic increases in scrub cover, with encroachment of a mean 1096 m2 per hectare over ten years. Whilst all management strategies were effective in reducing scrub encroachment, they differed in their ability to influence regeneration of scrub and grassland quality. There was a general trend, evident in both the floral community and scrub levels, of increased effectiveness with increasing management intensity. The dual methodology proved highly effective, allowing rapid collection of data over a range of variables and spatial scales unavailable to each method individually. The methodology thus demonstrates potential for a useful monitoring tool.