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Ongoing, but slowing, habitat loss in a rural landscape over 85 years.

Ridding, L.E., Watson, S.C.L., Newton, A., Rowland, C.S. and Bullock, J.M., 2020. Ongoing, but slowing, habitat loss in a rural landscape over 85 years. Landscape Ecology, 35, 257-273.

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Ridding2020_Article_OngoingButSlowingHabitatLossIn.pdf - Published Version
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DOI: 10.1007/s10980-019-00944-2


© 2019, The Author(s). Context: Studies evaluating biodiversity loss and altered ecosystem services have tended to examine changes over the last few decades, despite the fact that land use change and its negative impacts have been occurring over a much longer period. Examining past land use change, particularly over the long-term and multiple time periods, is essential for understanding how rates and drivers of change have varied historically. Objectives: To quantify and assess patterns of change in semi-natural habitats across a rural landscape at five time points between 1930 and 2015. Methods: We determined the habitat cover at over 3700 sites across the county of Dorset, southern England in 1930, 1950, 1980, 1990 and 2015, using historical vegetation surveys, re-surveys, historical maps and other contemporary spatial data. Results: Considerable declines in semi-natural habitats occurred across the Dorset landscape between 1930 and 2015. This trend was non-linear for the majority of semi-natural habitats, with the greatest losses occurring between 1950 and 1980. This period coincides with the largest gains to arable and improved grassland, reflecting agricultural expansion after the Second World War. Although the loss of semi-natural habitats declined after this period, largely because there were very few sites left to convert, there were still a number of habitats lost within the last 25 years. Conclusions: The findings illustrate a long history of habitat loss in the UK, and are important for planning landscape management and ameliorative actions, such as restoration. Our analysis also highlights the role of statutory protection in retaining semi-natural habitats, suggesting the need for continued protection of important habitats.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article ( contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Afforestation; Agricultural intensification; Habitat loss; Land cover; Seminatural habitat; Urbanisation
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:33196
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:07 Jan 2020 11:18
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:19


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