All three of the Local Environmental Records Centres hosted by the Wildlife Trust BCN will soon be starting work on a project to update the Ancient Woodland Inventory for our three counties. The National Planning Policy Framework was amended recently to give ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees strengthened protection from inappropriate development, however planners and developers need to know where ancient woodland is located.
The project, which is part funded by the Woodland Trust and Natural England, aims to update the existing inventory which was compiled in the 1980s when computer mapping was starting to develop, and whilst it is a valuable resource as a conservation tool it has been found to have inaccuracies and is lacking in detail, especially when used at the local scale. The aim of the update is therefore to produce a more accurate map of Ancient Woodland, and to include small woods (0.25-2ha) that aren’t on the existing inventory, across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire improving the information available for conservation as well as for planners and developers.
The initial stages of the project will use several different datasets, including modern day aerials and 1st Edition Ordnance Survey maps (Epoch 1, 1843-1893), to identify areas common to both maps that are shown as woodland. Once this has been completed the results will be compared with the existing Inventory to identify any areas that were missed off the existing Inventory, and to check the previously designated areas.
Once this part of the project is complete, we are hoping that a further project will enable the completion of the Inventory. This will require investigation of historical data available locally that supports the status of any woodland areas identified as ancient woodland, and determine areas that might need further investigation with on the ground surveys. The final map will then be produced and made freely available for anyone to use via Natural England’s online Open Data Geoportal.