This is the fourth year of publishing the State of the Chilterns Environment report and useful trend data is starting to emerge.
There are inevitably important aspects of the state of the Chilterns environment that are not readily reduced to a series of indicators – for example climate change and tranquillity – which are nonetheless likely to have an increasingly significant bearing on the quality of the Chilterns environment. There are other changes looming – for example the impact of tree pests and diseases – which are not currently covered by the indicators but which need to be.
It is good to see improving trends across a number of indicators, including:
- Overall levels of management of woodlands in the Chilterns are good and improving, with steady increases in take up of English Woodland Grant Scheme
- Good and increasing numbers of participants in Health Walks
- Improved numbers of local wildlife/ local geological sites known to be in positive conservation management.
- Farmland management through take up of Higher Level Stewardship
In other cases there are concerns about deteriorating trends or stalled progress, including:
- Condition of chalk rivers – all 9 chalk rivers failing to attain good ecological status or potential with negligible improvements anticipated to 2021.
- Declines in overall coverage of agri-environment schemes, reflecting no doubt in part uncertainty regarding Common Agricultural Policy reform.
- Long-term declines in livestock numbers giving rise to concerns over availability of suitable grazing animals for conservation sites.
- Increases in numbers of listed buildings (Grad 1/11*) at risk.
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