There are 29 Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) in Berkshire - these make up a total area of 48,112 hectares!
Conservation need outweighs available funding. BOAs identify where the greatest opportunities for habitat creation and restoration lie, enabling the efficient focusing of resources to where they will have the greatest positive conservation impact. This will represent a more efficient way of delivering action on the ground.
BOAs will have multiple benefits: improving the natural environment and providing quality areas in which people want to live and work. A wide range of organisations and individuals will have a role to play in making the ecological network a reality.
See the links on the right for information on the individual BOAs.
Why Biodiversity Opportunity Areas?
Traditionally, nature conservation has focused on protecting important sites. This approach has achieved a lot however it, alone, cannot sustain biodiversity in the long-term. Many once common species are still in decline. Important sites are still fragmented and isolated from one another. In order to successfully conserve a viable natural environment, we also need to take into account physical factors such as water and nutrient cycling. These processes link sites to the wider landscape and affect the habitat found. In other words, we need to reconnect biodiversity with ecosystems, and change the scale of work towards a landscape focus.
Landscape-scale conservation reconciles protection of habitats and species of principal importance with ecosystem function. It allows us to adopt a more sustainable approach to custody of the countryside; ensuring biodiversity can adapt and thrive in the face of climate change. To achieve this, opportunities must be sought to expand, link and buffer sites. We need to increase the quality of the entire countryside for wildlife. This will begin to reverse the current fragmented picture of ecosystems, and enable us to reclaim a healthy and functional environment. This change is also vital to safeguard our own quality of life, as we are dependent on natural services such as climate regulation and food production.
How were the BOAs selected?
The identification of Berkshire's BOAs was a detailed assessment process. It took into account existing concentrations of habitat, important areas for rare species of principal importance, land with potential for habitat restoration, and several other factors (including geology, topography and hydrology). Many of the areas identified are well known in Berkshire for their nature conservation importance and they all contain principal habitat.
The work was funded by all Berkshire's Unitary Authorities and was undertaken by Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC). For further details about the selection process, please contact TVERC.
Inside a Biodiversity Opportunity Area
BOAs do not represent a statutory designation or a constraint upon activities. They indicate areas where there are substantial opportunities to make positive changes for biodiversity, and should be used to inform conservation strategies and place planning. Members of Berks LNP will strive to work with farmers, landowners, planners, developers and communities in these areas and aim to show that in partnership we can achieve social and economic objectives alongside a thriving natural environment. The Berkshire targets will be linked to BOAs wherever possible to increase the effectiveness of our work.
Outside a Biodiversity Opportunity Area
BOAs are a means of indicating where significant gains can be made for biodiversity. They do not contain all habitat of principal importance or all the areas where habitat creation or restoration is possible throughout Berkshire.
Whilst they are useful in directing conservation effort, they are not the only areas where biodiversity work can be delivered. Everyone has a role to play in conservation and you should not feel discouraged to find you are not within a BOA. If you would like information or ideas about other local opportunities, please contact us.
We will regularly review the current activities and support within BOAs. This will enable identification of any gaps in provision and opportunities for progressing existing work. The review will also help to identify potential projects to secure the specific objectives within each BOA.