Consideration of possible futures for peri-urban sites based on restabilising ecosystem processes : rewilding nature and people

Bradley, T 2020, Consideration of possible futures for peri-urban sites based on restabilising ecosystem processes : rewilding nature and people , MSc by research thesis, University of Salford.

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Inadequate funding, the shifting baseline syndrome phenomena, and the prescribe and protect approach to conservation collectively hinders ecosystem function. Rewilding offers an alternative solution without the same limitations. While it is documented that large-scale rewilding projects have seen an increase in biodiversity, further empirical evidence is needed to establish whether rewilding can be applied to small-scale, peri-urban sites. A Geographical Information System (GIS) was used to produce historical and contemporary data on the vegetation type and cover of Upper Moss Side (UMS), a small-scale site in the Upper Mersey Estuary between Warrington and Runcorn. Two scenarios were tested - passive management and rewilding - using local ecological data, which was input into a Markov model for the former, and analysed against a critical review of the relevant literature for the latter. These scenarios, plus underpinning data, were presented to local stakeholders via a workshop. The workshop data were analysed using thematic analysis focussed on the practicality and acceptability of the rewilding approach. Under the passive management scenario the Markov model calculated a transferal in landcover from a diverse mosaic of habitats to a predominantly woodland with patches of grassland and scrub and lowering biodiversity. Under the rewilding scenario the model predicted a mosaic of habitats that increases biodiversity when missing ecological functions are reoccupied. Feedback from the workshop demonstrated that while everyone agreed it is acceptable to rewild some thought it was not practical. This study has shown that rewilding can be a suitable strategy in a small-scale, peri-urban landscape, and highlighted some of the many challenges associated with this approach. Elements of rewilding could be applied to UMS that could benefit the wider area, e.g. increased flood protection. The exploration of stakeholder values and ecological data, as presented here, can be used to evaluate the suitability of future rewilding projects in the UME and elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc by research)
Contributors: James, P (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Depositing User: Toni Bradley
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 13:52
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:49

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