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Pioneering study reveals UK biodiversity hotspot
Date:11/30/2010

Scientists are calling for radical new approaches to conservation following the first biodiversity audit of its kind.

Led by the University of East Anglia (UEA), with partners Natural England, the Forestry Commission, Norfolk and Suffolk Biodiversity Partnerships and County Councils, the Brecks Partnership, and Plantlife, the painstaking study pooled information on every plant and animal species recorded in Breckland a special landscape of heathland, forest and farmland stretching across the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

In an unprecedented effort, the UEA team collated records for a huge variety of species identified in the region, from the smallest gnat and tiniest beetle, through to birds, plants and mammals. The researchers were astonished to discover that 28 per cent of the UK's rare species were found in Breckland an area covering only 0.4 per cent of land in the UK.

This collaborative study's innovative, evidence-based methodology offers a more targeted and dynamic approach to conservation identifying what biodiversity is present in a region, where it is, and what it needs if it is to thrive.

With the help of 200 naturalists, UEA collated nearly a million records, showing that 12,500 species can be found in the region. Of these, more than 2,000 are of national conservation concern. The study is believed to be the first of its kind to consider every single species found in an entire region. The team went on to analyse the ecological needs of these 2,000 rare species, which allowed them to identify novel approaches for managing habitats to restore and protect this biodiversity. The report provides a manual for land managers, showing them what can be done to restore and conserve the unique biodiversity of the region.

"These exciting findings demonstrate beyond doubt what conservationists have long suspected that Breckland is a unique region and vitally important hot-spot for rare and threatened species, makin
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Contact: Simon Dunford
s.dunford@uea.ac.uk
44-016-035-92203
University of East Anglia
Source:Eurekalert

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