Return of heathlands one positive in ‘alarming’ survey

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DESPITE a lot of bad news, the newly-released habitat survey did have a few success stories.

The new habitat survey was largely bad news for principal environment services officer Andy McCutcheon and biodiversity education officer Julia Henney, but hard work and sound conservation measures have seen the return of dune heathland, which had disappeared, and coastal heathland. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 26044572)

The Habitat Survey 2018 Report was released last week and follows previous surveys conducted in 1999 and 2010.

A number of biodiversity rich habitats have declined, however some coastal habitats appear to have made a recovery.

Between 1999 and 2010, there was a significant decline in coastal heathland, and dune heathland was completely lost from Guernsey.

They are important habitats for pollinating insects.

The new survey has found that both have started to recover thanks to the introduction of appropriate management techniques, demonstrating how effective conservation methods can be when applied.

‘These positive trends demonstrate that it is possible to restore habitats through hard work and the implementation of sound conservation measures,’ said biodiversity education officer Julia Henney.

‘We can get unimproved grassland back,’ she said.

Unimproved grassland was reported in the latest survey as completely absent from Guernsey and semi-improved grassland had decreased by 90% since 1999.


‘There are bits of land that can be turned back – one area of unimproved grassland was at Candie cemetery, with more sensitive management it could quickly be returned.

‘Other changed habitats could take decades but would still get back there and it’s better to start today than in 10 years time.

‘I think if the current trend continues, the outcome of the next survey is looking really bleak.

’We will also lose semi-improved grasslands but positive changes in the resurrection of heathland shows there is an appetite to change things and it gives hope that the right resources can help, it needs determination from all areas of the community.’


Principal environment services officer Andy McCutcheon said the survey was an important component in the biodiversity strategy.

‘It’s important to find out how habitats change over time – are they declining or increasing? – it helps us to formulate strategies to help maintain species.

‘The report is an eye-opener and a wake-up call. If we want to improve Guernsey for future generations we have to do something now.’

Charlotte Le

By Charlotte Le
News reporter

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