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Biodiversity of short rotation willow coppice in Wales, with particular reference to birds

Fry, Danielle Ann 2008. Biodiversity of short rotation willow coppice in Wales, with particular reference to birds. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

Changes in agricultural management have caused massive declines across many taxa associated with the farmed landscape including many of conservation value. Population declines of farmland birds have been particularly rapid, massive and widespread. Although currently under utilised, particularly in Wales, short rotation willow coppice (SRC) could provide a sustainable fuel that offers a significant reduction in net carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels. This anticipated change to the Welsh agricultural landscape warrants investigation in terms of the impact it is likely to have on biodiversity. This study aimed to investigate the biodiversity of SRC in the Welsh agricultural landscape, concentrating on likely effects to bird populations. Weed floral diversity and species richness was found to increase significantly when SRC was planted compared to the previous landuse. This in turn provided substantial amounts of weed seeds in young SRC easily utilised by many bird species during the winter. As the crop matured the bird community changed but mainly, provided valuable habitat for diverse bird communities during the breeding season. SRC was found to be a highly beneficial breeding bird habitat chiefly for migrant warblers. The increased production of SRC in Wales could significantly increase the productivity of the Willow Warbler in particularly. Planting SRC in Wales could be of significant benefit to biodiversity including those bird species contributing to the UK government's Wild Bird Index. By making it financially beneficial for farmers to be less aggressive in their control of weeds, for instance through Tir Gofal or equivalent agri-environment scheme, SRC could realize its biodiversity potential. This could enable the government to reach both its carbon emissions and biodiversity targets.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
ISBN: 9781303214783
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:13
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/54859

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