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The Environmental Change Network at Alice Holt Research Forest

This Research Note reviews data collected at the Alice Holt site over 14 years of operation from 1992–2006.
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© Forestry Commission

Benham, S. (2008). The Environmental Change Network at Alice Holt Research Forest

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The Environmental Change Network (ECN) was established in 1992 to provide a framework for monitoring the effects of a range of environmental drivers on freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. The Alice Holt ECN site represents the Forestry Commission’s commitment to this long-term collaborative programme. This Research Note reviews data collected at the Alice Holt site over 14 years of operation from 1992–2006. Evidence of the impacts of climate change, pollution and their interaction with land management are explored. Monitoring of air quality has demonstrated a decline in the levels of some harmful pollutants and this is reflected in a reduction in soil acidity and resulting changes in plant communities.

Meteorological data provide evidence that the climate is changing with significant trends in summer rainfall and winter cold days. Changes in moth populations have been linked to changes in climate while the decline in some butterfly species is identified as a possible consequence of reduction in open space. In contrast, this reduction has benefited several species of ground beetle, which prefer shady conditions. Bird surveys have enabled assessment and identification of possible causes of changes to the woodland bird populations, including those species subject to Biodiversity Action Plans. Similar trends are becoming apparent across the network, providing a robust early warning system for detecting changes in natural ecosystems as the effects of climate change set in.

[Note: description from the Forestry Commission Publications website]

Further information

  • The Environmental Change Network at Alice Holt Research Forest Research Note can be downloaded from the Forestry Commission's website at www.forestry.gov.uk/publications. Free hard copies can be ordered from Forestry Commission Publications, P.O. Box 25, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7EW; telephone 0870 121 4180; fax: 0870 121 4181; email: forestry@twoten.com, quoting stock code FCRN 001.
  • The author, Sue Benham, is a project leader in the Environmental & Human Sciences Division at Forest Research. She took over the Environmental Change Network project based at Alice Holt in 1997. She also has responsibility for deposition monitoring as part of the International Co-operative Programme (ICP) for Assessment and Monitoring of the Effects of Air Pollution on Forests - Level II programme, and is a member of the expert panel on deposition.
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