Improving the Condition of Natural and Cultural Capital in Dorset and Hampshire: A HEIF project
By Alexander Lovegrove
Dorset and Hampshire are counties rich in natural beauty, biodiversity, and sites of archaeological importance. Within both counties, there are organisations dedicated to either conservation or preserving areas of historical importance, but they rarely work together or manage both. This new HEIF-funded project, led by Dr. Phillipa Gillingham, aims to bring these organisations and BU students together to change this and use their collective knowledge to preserve areas of natural beauty and historical importance. “We want to be able to manage them both for conservation purposes and for their rich archaeological heritage,” says Dr Gillingham. This project focusses on peatland ecosystems, which have significant importance both locally and internationally for their biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural value. “Ultimately, we hope to be able to develop a case study of the area to demonstrate how you can manage peatlands for the benefit of both archaeologists and conservationists. This will make a difference locally and for the further research we hope to do in the Atlantic regions.”
Key objectives of the project will include collecting data on the pressures reducing these natural and cultural assets, such as recreational use and land use change – including a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of land managers (which has already begun) and Student Environment Research Team (SERT) work by students carried out over the easter break. This will lead to scientific output documenting the pressures and impacts facing these valuable environments. Further scientific work will investigate the changes in condition of these ecosystems over time, using palaeoecological and archaeological evidence together with recreation of ecological surveys carried out in the 1950s.
One of the most important aspects of the project will be the opportunity to bring together several different conservation organisations in the local area in order to share knowledge and build new relationships. This will involve building a network with stakeholders to exchange knowledge on current approaches to assessing the condition and trends of natural and cultural capital assets in peatlands. Additionally, sharing of best practice guidelines for monitoring and managing the condition of natural and cultural capital assets will be carried out through this network, an exhibition on Dorset and Hampshire peatlands, an event at the Festival of Learning and reports from the SERT teams.
The project, led by Dr Pippa Gillingham, includes ecologists (Dr Anita Diaz, Prof. Adrian Newton, Alexander Lovegrove), archaeologists (Prof. Mark Brisbane) and Palaeoecologists (Dr John Stewart). The team also includes in its network Dr Lawrence Shaw from the New Forest National Park Authority, Toby Branston at the RSPB and David Brown from the National Trust, who manage land locally for both cultural heritage and biodiversity, and Prof. Nigel Webb from Dorset Wildlife Trust. “We hope that the knowledge we develop will be of real benefit to them.” Funding is provided through HEIF – HEIF 5+1+1 – with funding running from 1 August 2016 until 31 July 2017. Please contact P.I. Dr Phillipa Gillingham (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Research Assistant Alexander Lovegrove (email@example.com) if you have any questions about the project.