Biodiversity Action Plan
Biodiversity in Calderdale
Calderdale has a large and diverse array of habitats and, consequently, of species which inhabit them. Indeed, it has often been said that the only feature the district lacks is a stretch of coastline. Biodiversity is all about this variety and is therefore especially relevant to the Calderdale district and its inhabitants. Although lucky in having this variety, it is essential that plans be put in place to safeguard its well being and continued diversity. Many important habitats are under threat from various pressures, with even our large expanses of upland moors not being immune. These are of international importance for their range and numbers of breeding birds which is recognised in that a large proportion has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Because Calderdale is a hilly area with the main communication routes through narrow steep-sided valleys, there is an overall misconception that the district is well wooded. In fact, the opposite is true with only 3% of Calderdale being tree-covered - well below the national average. This places great importance on the woods we do have, especially the small clough woodlands which hold valuable remnants of woodland plant and animal communities. There may be no ‘natural’ lakes in the district but there are many reservoirs and old mill dams which can and do fulfil the function. These are important refuges for many species to maintain a foothold in the area but in many cases are vulnerable to development or neglect.
All these habitats, and others, are linked by a common factor, they are subject to increasing pressures from growing populations, industry and fragmentation - they are all in danger. This makes even small patches of wild or unmanaged land of special value - a rushy field, a disused farm pond, an undeveloped patch of ‘wasteland’ - all can play a part in enhancing and maintaining the biodiversity of Calderdale.
1.6 What are the main threats to species and habitats?
- loss or damage to long established habitats causing further fragmentation
- neglect or inappropriate management of key habitats
- natural succession eg scrub invasion of wetlands and bogs
- loss of habitat due to developments such as road building, housing, industrial developments, open-cast extraction of soft and hard rock
- inappropriate use of areas for amenity use
- over-intensively managed open spaces
- human impact and disturbance, litter, dumping, vandalism, erosion of moorland etc.
- planting of trees in inappropriate places
- intensive agricultural practices including drainage, river bank management, over grazing
- pollution of freshwater resources, including nitrate run-off
- contamination of groundwater from disused mines
- uncontrolled spread of introduced species such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam
- climatic change involving weather patterns, temperature increases and effects from ozone depletion
- lack of appropriate information or data on species and habitats.
1.7 Timescale of the plan
Although most targets within the plan have been set for 2010, it cannot be over emphasised that the present plan is the beginning of a long process to protect and enhance Calderdale’s biological diversity. Calderdale’s Biodiversity Action Plan must be seen as an evolving programme in which details will be revised in response to new information and data. It should be stressed again that the present plan is only a first step towards conserving our wildlife and it is to be monitored and revised as further data and information become available. It is intended to add new Species and Habitat Action Plans to the BAP on an annual basis.
The plan co-ordinator welcomes all comments and suggestions which will be considered in future revisions.