Habitat Action Plans
Grasslands are widespread throughout the country and can be divided broadly by their degree of agricultural improvement, the soil type and the water regime.
In the Calderdale context the main types are lowland grasslands on neutral soils, and more elevated grasslands on less nutrient rich soils, some of which may be distinctly acidic, and may be wet.
Much of the most interesting grassland in the district is of this type, often called In-bye, which is restricted to higher ground around the edges of moorland and is generally more common in the north of England.
In-bye consists of unimproved and semi-improved grassland, it is often with associated wet rushy or boggy areas, adjacent to, or close to unenclosed moorland. It may include improved permanent grassland where this is part of the local mosaic, or contains wet areas. Upland hay meadows, which may be part of the in-bye mosaic, have their own Action Plan nationally. In-bye does not generally have a particularly diverse flora, although some springs and flushes may be important. It does however form a vital feeding and breeding area for many upland birds, especially breeding waders – lapwing, curlew, snipe, redshank and feeding golden plover.
Lowland meadows are quite a wide family of grasslands, ranging from relatively rich wet pastures through to hay-meadows. Within Calderdale wet seasonally flooded meadows exist in the valley bottoms with drier hay meadows on the shallow slopes of the lower valley sides. Roadside verges can be important in areas with few grasslands.
All these types tend to grade into each other, and firm definitions are often difficult and may not be very helpful.
The Southern Pennines holds an important representation of the southern-most extent of in-bye grassland. Many upland breeding birds feed on these areas and depend on the abundance of seeds and invertebrates during the breeding season and the pastures provide soft ground conditions for probing waders. The mosaic of habitats within the in-bye attracts a variety of species. Other grassland types are poorly represented, with most lowland grassland being improved. These may still be important in places for a variety of birds, especially where they exist as set-aside or as damp areas within more improved ground.
In-bye habitat is scattered but fairly extensive along the western boundary of the district, associated with the uplands of the South Pennine Moors. Calderdale does include significant areas of upland acid grassland, some of which is degraded heathland.
Lowland grassland is found in east Calderdale and along the valley bottoms. Wet rushy pastures are common. Hay meadows are now scarce in the South Pennines.
Current factors causing loss or decline
- Agricultural improvement (particularly a change to silage, which may include ploughing and re-seeding as well as more intensive cutting) and drainage.
- Changes from traditional agricultural practices, such as increased use of grasslands for horse paddocks, can result in over-grazing.
- Loss of habitat due to development.
- Inappropriate management, especially cutting at the wrong time and over-grazing, can cause damage to the interest of the habitat.
- Supplementary feeding can cause localised eutrophication.
- Abandonment can result in areas reverting to scrub.
- Flood control may result in wet grassland no longer being allowed to flood.
- RSPB / EN / FWAG In bye land initiative
- Countryside Stewardship
- Environmental Impact Assessment legislation.
- The Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities (SCOSPA) has written an Integrated Management Strategy and Conservation Action Plan for the South Pennines Moors SPA (Special Protection Area) which aims to increase and enhance the key habitats within the SPA and surrounding area and support the implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan through funding bids.
- Environmental Impact Assessment legislation.
The following Calderdale Priority Species are associated with this habitat:
Birds e.g Hobby, Lapwing, Snipe, Curlew, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Yellowhammer Reptiles e.g Grass snake Butterflies and Moths e.g Ghost Moth, Small Copper, Chimney Sweeper Plants e.g Autumn Crocus, Frog orchid. Fungi e.g Pink Waxcap, Earthtongue, Straw Club, Date Coloured Waxcap.
- Ensure all wildlife sites (i.e. SSSIs and SEGIs or equivalent) are maintained in an ecologically favourable condition.
- Restore a further 20 ha of unimproved grassland by 2010.
- Create 100 ha of unimproved grassland by 2010.
|1. Policy and Legislation||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Ensure the needs of in-bye are taken into account when developing and adjusting agri-environment schemes||DEFRA / RDS||CMBC (CAFU), EN, FWAG, RSPB|
|Ensure that UDP policies are in place to protect this habitat||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU)|
|Consider the impact on this habitat when assessing planning applications||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU)|
|Take opportunities through the planning system to restore or create grasslands. Explore possibilities of long term management agreements||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU)|
|Enforce EIA legislation as appropriate||CMBC (DC)||CMBC (CAFU), EN|
|Ensure that the best examples of unimproved grassland are designated as SEGIs or SSSIs||WYE / EN||CMBC (CAFU), CMBC (DP)|
|Ensure the needs of the habitat are accounted for in Flood Defence Catchment Management Plans||EA||CMBC (CAFU)|
|2. Site safeguard and management||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Gather information on the value of areas (identify bird feeding / breeding areas and any lowland grassland sites of interest). Inform owners / occupiers and EN||WYE||EN, RSPB, CMBC (CAFU), HBC, HSS, TNHS, UCWN, YWT|
|With owner / occupiers, draw up management plans for all wildlife sites. Assist with and support applications for CS where appropriate||WYE||RSPB, FWAG, DEFRA, EN, CMBC (CAFU), YW|
|Identify areas adjacent to existing sites of value and assess potential for expansion||CMBC (CAFU)||RSPB, WYE, YW|
|3. Research and monitoring||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Monitor extent of habitat||EN||WYE|
|Maintain sites database||WYE, CMBC (CAFU)||-|
|4. Advisory||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Disseminate information on best management practice and the importance of key areas to owner / occupiers and policy makers||EN||FWAG, RSPB, CMBC (CAFU)|
|Provide advice on habitat re-creation / restoration||EN||RSPB, FWAG, WYE|
|5. Regional||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Consider the development of a demonstration area to show best management practice||RSPB||CMBC (CAFU), EN, FWAG|
|6. Communication and publicity||Lead Partner||Other partners|
|Raise awareness of the importance of this habitat||CMBC (CAFU)||ATC|
|Key to abbreviations|
|ATC||Alternative Technology Centre|
|CMBC (CAFU)||Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Countryside and Forestry Unit)|
|CMBC (DC)||Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Development Control)|
|CMBC (DP)||Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Development and Policy)|
|DEFRA||Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs|
|FWAG||Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group|
|HBC||Halifax Birdwatchers Club|
|HSS||Halifax Scientific Society|
|RDS||Rural Development Service|
|RSPB||Royal Society for the Protection of Birds|
|TNHS||Todmorden Natural History Society|
|UCWN||Upper Calderdale Wildlife Network|
|WYE||West Yorkshire Ecology|
|YWT||Yorkshire Wildlife Trust|
Plan Co-ordinator: Felicite Dodd, English Nature