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Ecological Assessment of Isle of Wight Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)

ECOSA was commissioned by Isle of Wight Council to undertake vegetation surveys of wetland sites on the Isle of Wight. The work was funded by the Environment Agency. The main purpose of the study was to provide ecological data that could be used to assess the effects of potential changes in hydrology of sites, and to identify sites that would benefit from conservation management.

Client: Isle of Wight Council

Objective: Conservation

The survey provided an assessment of the impact of water abstraction at the sites and a baseline for future ecological monitoring. A total of 25 sites were surveyed during the study. These mostly consisted of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) that have been designated by the Council, but for which detailed information on vegetation and flora was lacking, and three potential sites of ecological interest not currently designated.

Notes were made on dominant and characteristic species in each vegetation type and the vegetation was identified to National Vegetation Classification (NVC) community or sub-community level where possible. Quadrat samples were occasionally recorded using the DOMIN method, and computer analysis later used to help confirm the NVC diagnosis. The habitats present were mapped using GIS software.

It was found that many of the sites had suffered from lack of management, leading to natural succession of open wet grassland and marsh vegetation types to denser tall herb fen and willow carr. It was therefore considered likely that some areas of species-rich vegetation had been replaced with species-poor vegetation, and ecological value had decreased as a result. Recommendations for management to improve this situation were provided.