Clarke, R. T., Sharp, J. and Liley, D., 2010. Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey Data Analysis. Technical Report. Natural England.
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This report relates to Ashdown Forest, which is classified as an Special Protection Area (SPA) due to the presence of breeding nightjars and Dartford warblers and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to the heathland habitats present on the site. The protected site forms a contiguous block of heathland and wooded habitats of around 3000ha. The Forest is close to existing settlements such as Crawley, East Grinstead, Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells. This report has been commissioned by Natural England to consider in detail current visitor rates to the site and the distribution of birds within the site in relation to visitor pressure. Such information and analysis is necessary to guide spatial planning in the area. We use data collected originally by UE Associates in September 2008, a visitor survey that involved visitor questionnaires and counts of people at 20 of the access points within Ashdown Forest. Within this survey data (a total of 645 interviews), 343 (53%) of the interviewed people provided full, valid postcodes, which enables us to determine the (GIS straight-line) distance from their home postcode to the access point where they were interviewed. These geocoded data show that 15% of interviews were conducted with visitors who lived less than 1km away from the location where they were interviewed, 50% within 5km and 90% within 17km.There are a total of 78 access points at Ashdown Forest. In order to predict total visitor numbers to Ashdown Forest it is necessary to derive estimates for the unsurveyed access points. To do this we treat visitors arriving on foot and by car separately and use data on the car-park capacity at each access point and the number of houses at different distance bands away from each access point (extracted from a postcode database within the GIS). People arriving from foot live close to the site and visit rate declines with distance such that no people travelling on foot were recorded visiting from beyond 1500m. The visitor rate for pedestrians declined with distance such that for people within 500m the number of visits (per person per 16 hours in August) was 0.034, a rate which declined by around three quarters for every additional 500m band away from the SPA. A Generalised Log-Linear Poisson statistical model was fitted to the survey data to predict car-visitor rates, with terms in the model to account for both distance band and car-park size at the access point. We predict the visitor rates to each access point separately for car visitors and foot visitors and sum all predictions for all access points to give total visitor numbers to the SPA. Our estimate of the total visitors was 325 people per daylight hour (in September). We model and estimate the spatial distribution of people within the site by ‘spreading out’ the visitors at each access point, based on the actual data from the survey showing how far people travel within the site on their visits and using GIS data describing the path network within the site. This allows us to create a visual overlay of visitor levels and relate this to the distribution of the Annex I birds present on the site (using the Annex I bird data from the most recent national surveys). There was no evidence that the density of Annex I birds was lower in areas with higher visitor pressure within the site, even when allowing for habitat type. The study does not explore breeding success and presents a simple snapshot of the distribution of people, birds and habitat within Ashdown Forest. Additional development surrounding the site is likely to result in increases in visitor rates to the site, and we give examples of the predicted number of additional visits arising from development in different locations around the SPA. It is not possible to determine whether or not an increase in visitor rates may result in impacts on the Annex I bird species for which the site is designated. Comparison with other SPAs in southern England suggests that the number of Annex I birds at Ashdown Forest is actually low, given the size of the site. The density of visitors is currently lower than other areas such as the Thames Basin Heaths. Detailed monitoring is recommended and further research to understand why the density of the three species varies between SPAs would be useful
|Item Type:||Monograph (Technical Report)|
|Subjects:||Geography and Environmental Studies|
|Group:||School of Applied Sciences > Centre for Conservation, Ecology and Environmental Change|
|Deposited By:||Professor Ralph Clarke|
|Deposited On:||19 Oct 2010 10:32|
|Last Modified:||07 Mar 2013 15:38|
Available Versions of this Item
- Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey Data Analysis. (deposited 14 May 2010 12:36)
- Ashdown Forest Visitor Survey Data Analysis. (deposited 19 Oct 2010 10:32) [Currently Displayed]
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