Bio-Diversity Audit Complete

Following the bio-diversity audit carried out in partnership with Natural England across the Rural Surveys between 2016 and 2018 all habitats have now been successfully identified, mapped and quantified. The resultant data allows for strategic oversight of each of the Rural Surveys as well as details of the characteristics of each estate including detailed evidence of the habitats currently in situ on each of our agricultural holdings.

A database of all habitats and features present on the holdings has been created including reporting on hedgerows, overgrown historic boundary cams, field corners, wild bird mixes, pollen and nectar mixes, scrub, species-rich grassland, field margins, watercourses, ponds, and woodland. Working with tenant farmers across the estates and continuing its tripartite partnership with Natural England and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust the Duchy is formulating site-specific plans to protect vulnerable habitats for wild pollinators and other priority species in both the immediate and longer term.

Commenting on the investigative phase of the project, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “This has been a significant piece of research and one that we could not have completed without the help and support of our partners and agricultural tenants. The key is for us to use this data to inform practical solutions which will help our farming tenants to protect and improve the biodiversity across our estates. By working together we are confident that we can ensure a sustainable ecological balance across the whole of our rural portfolio for the longer term.”

160 farming units and over 12,000 hectares of land have been visited, investigated and documented as part of the audit over the past 2 years and each individual holding has received its own list of site characteristics and ‘habitat analysis’ in the form of a detailed environmental datasheet. Next steps will include a series of tenant workshops to share best practice and a number of Countryside Stewardship applications from farming tenants across the Surveys.

The Duchy of Lancaster is an ancient inheritance of land and property assets held in trust for the Sovereign. Founded in the 13th century the Duchy’s rural holdings across England and Wales are administered by Survey namely Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire, Southern and Yorkshire.