Management Measures

The results of the assessment of the measures which are considered to be beneficial to achieving or maintaining favourable feature condition are summarised in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Management measures reported


Figure 6. Management measures reported
Management agreements with owners or occupiers are the most common way of trying to bring sites into management and favourable condition. This situation may change from now on, with agri-environment schemes having a larger role to play. However, it is not yet known how long it may take to return many features to favourable condition, and some agri-environment schemes have not proven to be very successful at funding the restoration phase where capital costs are very high. Experience to date shows that restoration is best achieved through targeted projects.
Table 4 shows the effect of combining favourable assessments with those which are unfavourable-recovering. It is ordered, under broad feature category headings, according to the percentage achieving favourable and unfavourable-recovering conditions. Shaded rows are the same as those in Table 3 to facilitate comparison.
This is the state that we should expect to see assuming the management that has been put in place is sustained and is successful (i.e. unfavourable-recovering condition is converted to favourable condition).  However, time will be needed for actions taken to realise their benefit on the ground.  The higher ranking of some features in Table 4 compared to Table 3, including amphibians, lowland heaths and grasslands, demonstrates the considerable efforts made by the conservation agencies to improve the condition of features in these vulnerable groups over recent years, and the potential value of continuing, and enhancing, this effort.
At the broad scale, tackling many of the problems of unfavourable condition of terrestrial features undoubtedly lies in the area of major policy changes to further encourage environmentally-friendly farming systems.  The prevalence of grazing problems needs to be tackled urgently.  Frequent site visits and regular contact between conservation staff and farmers are required to build relationships and ensure that the conservation vision for the site is understood.
Management agreements and agri-environment schemes are both important tools.  Agri-environment schemes will increasingly become the main response mechanism to management problems.  In England, where SSSIs are already being targeted, this will be supplemented by Wildlife Enhancement Schemes.  The equivalent approach in Scotland and Northern Ireland are the Natural Care and Management of Sensitive Sites schemes.  In Wales, management agreements are regarded as an essential means of topping-up what cannot be delivered through agri-environment agreements.  Influencing livestock policy will be essential.  Schemes such as the Grazing Animals Project in England, and Pori, Natur a Treftadaeth in Wales, are producing promising results, but need more secure financial backing.