Biodiversity action plans

Biodiversity Action Plans form a national framework for nature conservation and provide specific objectives and targets against which progress will be measured. Plans can be created on a number of scales from a single species in a small wildlife area, to a national overview of an important type of habitat.

Chichester Biodiversity Action Plan

The Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) for Chichester District is a strategic document bringing together the Council's planned activities to protect our local biodiversity, as well as proposing new areas of activity such as habitat improvements to some of the Biodiversity Opportunity Areas identified by the Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan.

The plan has a number of key areas including creating an accurate picture of the wildlife in the district, developing local partnerships, raising public awareness of the need for action and maintaining, restoring and creating habitats for the benefit of biodiversity on both a regional and local scale.

The Chichester Local Biodiversity Action Plan aims to complement actions proposed in the Sussex and UK BAP and to focus resources to conserve and enhance biodiversity through local partnerships.

Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan

The Sussex BAP was created by the Sussex Biodiversity Partnership and focuses specifically on the habitats found within the Sussex region and links to those relevant sections of the UK BAP.

Many of the habitats and species covered by the Sussex Habitat Action Plan are found in the Chichester District. As such, the Habitat Action Plans (HAPs) and Species Action Plans (SAPs) relate directly to the habitats and species on our doorstep.

UK Biodiversity Action Plan

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) highlights areas of biodiversity throughout the UK that are in particular need of conservation and protection.

 

Brandy Hole Copse local nature reserve

Brandy Hole Copse lies to the north-west of Chichester City's built-up area. It is an area of managed woodland comprising mainly of Sweet Chestnut, which until recently, had been coppiced continuously since the 18th Century. It is 6.5 hectares in total and includes three small ponds with dipping/viewing platforms. The area was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2001 to help protect and enhance its diverse flora and fauna, which includes a sea of bluebells every spring and numerous rare and fascinating species throughout the year.

Within the Copse there are also two Iron Age boundaries known as Chichester Entrenchments which also contain some of the few remaining in-situ examples of WWII defensive structures. The Copse is crossed by and can be accessed from the former Chichester-Midhurst railway line; "Centurion Way".

The Friends of Brandy Hole Copse (FBHC) have been key players in the management of the copse for many years. Throughout the year, volunteers from the group conduct guided walks, pond dipping sessions and nature trails. The Crumblies Conservation Volunteers also contribute to the management of the copse at key times of the year.

The revised Brandy Hole Copse Management Plan can now be downloaded. The Plan was created by the Brandy Hole Copse Management Board and details further information about the history, content and future plans for the copse. Approximately an acre of the Sweet Chestnut was coppiced in February 2008 to open up a large area of ground to the light. Although dramatic at first, the stumps quickly re-grow within a year or two. Brandy Hole Copse wins a Silver Award in the South East in Bloom Competition (Country Park Category).

 

Dogs at the harbour

 

Dog Walking Code of Conduct

There are many places to walk dogs, it is only in exceptional areas for wildlife that restrictions need to be put in place. Chichester Harbour is a Special Protection Area (SPA) which means that it is identified by the European Union as one of the top wildlife sites in Europe. Working together we can protect this special site and the wildlife that lives there for future generations to enjoy.

As the local population has grown we have seen an increase in the amount of visitors to this site. Due to this, it is important that we help reduce the disturbance to the birds that rely on these important feeding grounds on the harbour mudflats.

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

In October 2017, Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, replacing Dog Control Orders. Councils now have the power to introduce restrictions or requirements to tackle or prevent any other activity that is considered to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, or is likely to have such an effect.

Examples of PSPO's could include:

  • Excluding dogs from designated areas
  • Requiring dog faeces to be picked up by owners
  • Requiring dogs to be kept on leads
  • Restricting the number of dogs that can be walked by one person at any one time

Public Spaces Protection order - Dog Control 2017

Part B - Dogs on Lead by Direction

Chichester Harbour

Dogs on lead by direction applies around Chichester Harbour, including Fishbourne, Nutbourne and Prinsted. This means that if your dog is causing a disturbance to overwintering birds, you may be asked by a council officer to put your dog on its lead.  If you refuse, it could result in a £100 fixed penalty notice fine, and so we would ask you to help us give this extra protection which is so vital to the survival of the birds.

Chichester Harbour

Chichester Harbour Conservancy  is internationally recognised as an important location for thousands of wading birds and wildfowl. These birds spend the winter months here in internationally significant numbers. They are attracted to the harbour for the plentiful supply of food they find in the saltmarshes and mudflats.

As the tide recedes you will see a variety of birds feeding in these areas. By feeding on these rich sources of food they build energy reserves as they prepare for onward migration. For some this can be up to 3,000 miles. The amount of food they eat also has a direct impact on their breeding success in the following season.

Whilst these birds are resident at Chichester Harbour, we all have a crucial role to play to help protect them.

Disturbance of birds

Findings from an important  Solent wide study have shown that people and dogs can impact upon the birds as they feed and roost.

The footpaths around the Harbour are very popular with walkers, and so the disturbance to the birds is increasing. However, being aware of what may disturb the birds and responding to this, will go a significant way to improving the situation.

When the birds are disturbed they can react in many different ways. In many instances they will fly away. This interrupts their feeding time and also makes them use valuable energy on an unnecessary flight. There are also less obvious impacts. Birds will avoid areas that are regularly disturbed. Unfortunately, sometimes these are the richest areas for food. Alternatively, the birds will simply lift their heads and watch, or they will run or walk further aware. All of these reactions can affect the bird's health and breeding potential. In extreme cases, it can lead to their death. Thank you for your help and understanding and for helping us to protect this special area.

Evidence has emerged that walkers and dog walkers can cause disturbance to feeding birds in the winter. This page explains more about that evidence and the wildlife concern that it raises. It also explains the need for dog walkers to be aware of how their dog's behaviour could adversely affect wild birds, particularly dogs off leads. In certain particularly sensitive areas it may become necessary to require dogs to be on leads through the use of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs).

Disturbance of overwintering birds reduced their feeding time and hence their chances of surviving the winter period. Reduced feeding time can also impair breeding success the following spring. The Solent includes many areas that are heavily used by birds for feeding but also by people for a wide range of activities.

For two successive winters a range of sites across the Solent have been surveyed to see what types of human activity occur, how many birds are present on the sites and what the birds response was, for example alert, short walk or swim, short flight or major flight. The surveying also recorded people's locations relative to the high tide mark. Was the activity on the shore or on the intertidal areas; and if so how far down toward low tide mark?

Out of this Solent wide data some clear messages emerge. The vast majority of human activity on the shoreline and the intertidal is from walkers (46%) and dog walkers (41%). A third of all activity involves walkers with one or more dogs off the lead. Other forms of human activity are relatively rare. Dog walkers with one or more dogs off lead accounted for 51% of all disturbance, walkers with all dogs on leads accounted for 5% of all disturbance

For all types of activity on the shore or on the open water 86% caused no disturbance and only 5% caused major flight by the birds. However for activity on the intertidal area 26% of events caused major flight. Of all events causing major flight response 45% were caused by dogs off leads on the intertidal area, the largest single cause of major flight disturbance.

This is the Solent wide picture. From the first winter's surveying we have some more detailed information about Fishbourne channel. This shows that Fishbourne had the highest level of disturbance of all the 13 sites surveyed that winter (early 2009) with an average of 4.0 disturbance events per hour, compared to a Solent wide average of 1.3 disturbance events per hour. Fishbourne is not the busiest site surveyed, but the birds seemed to be particularly sensitive to disturbance as 50% of activities resulted in some form of disturbance, compared to a Solent wise average of 15%.

The largest single cause of disturbance at Fishbourne was from dog walkers - 1.9 times per hour out of 4.0 total disturbance events per hour, the second largest cause of disturbance was walkers without dogs at 0.7 events per hour out of 4.0

From this evidence some conclusions can be drawn. Walkers and dog walkers who stick to the shoreline path cause fewer problems for birds than those who go onto the intertidal area. For dog walkers keeping all the dogs on leads reduces the amount of disturbance. Thirdly, trying to direct visitors away from particularly sensitive areas of the harbour will also help reduce the problem.

Bird Aware Solent - (Follow the coastal code)

Bird Aware  is an initiative to raise awareness of the birds that spend the winter on the Solent, so that people can enjoy the coast and its wildlife without disturbing the birds.

Every year 90,000 waders and wildfowl fly here from as far as the Arctic. This makes the Solent coast of worldwide importance for wildlife. These birds need to feed and rest undisturbed so that they can survive the winter and build up enough energy to fly back to their summer habitats. Their survival relies on everyone helping to prevent bird disturbance.

Please consider the Bird Aware Coastal Code

  • Look out for birds feeding or resting on the coast
  • Take care not to scare or disturb them
  • Move further away if birds become alert and stop feeding
  • Stay on paths where they exist
  • Always follow requests on signs
  • Exercise your dog away from coastal birds to avoid disturbing them
  • Keep your dog in sight and on a short lead if you cannot rely on its obedience
  • Please clean up after your dog
  • If you are going out on the water contact the local harbour authority for special guidance

 pdf icon Bird Aware Leaflet web version 2017 [626kb] - take the leaflet with you when you visit the Solent Coast

Tell your friends and family about the Coastal Code

Where can I walk my dog?

Walking your dog keeps both of you healthy and fit and there are lots of places you can go including:

Thousands of miles of public rights of way, shown in green on Ordnance Survey Explorer maps.

Ordnance Survey

You have the right to access some land for walking or certain other leisure activities.

Gov.uk - right of access

Millions of acres of Forestry Commission land.

Forestry commission

Country parks, permissive paths, beaches and National Trust land. Register at:

Forestry commission

to search for dog friendly places across the UK & Europe:

  • Dog days out
  • Where to stay
  • Pubs to visit
  • High Street businesses

Responsible dog ownership

For information on responsible dog ownership, please explore:

Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme

Kennel club

The majority of dog owners are brilliant and keep their dogs under close control, which ultimately helps to ensure that they are welcome in many of the UK's parks, beaches and other public places.

Dogs cannot behave irresponsibly only owners can

Chichester Harbour​​​​​​​

Protecting bird populations

Chichester Harbour is not just a place of great beauty, or for enjoying leisure activities. It is one of the most important wildlife sites in Europe and as such it has a range of international wildlife designations. These bring with them a high level of protection in law. Assessment of the 21 bird species for which it is designated shows 11 species on alert or high alert. 

Declining bird numbers have many causes, but water quality and disturbance of the birds by humans are two of the known main impacts. The water treatment works issues at Apuldram are being investigated by Southern Water and the Environment Agency. For the time being larger developments in Chichester may be restricted, but an engineering solution will be needed.

However for the disturbance problems, the solutions lie in all our hands. By being aware of where the sensitive parts of the harbour are, by exploring alternative sites to visit and by behaving responsibly in the most sensitive parts of the harbour, we can all help protect wildlife for present and future generations.

Chichester Harbour is particularly important for over-wintering birds. These wading birds feed on the invertebrates in the mudflats and salt marshes and come to the harbour because it is a rich source of food that can sustain them over winter, and help them feed up in order to breed the following spring.

However in winter, daylight is short and the feeding grounds are only exposed at low tide. With a short feeding window anything that disturbs the birds making them fly off has a double effect, energy is used in flying and energy is lost as feeding time is further shortened. Studies commissioned through the Solent Forum show that the problems of disturbance of birds is particularly pronounced in Chichester Harbour, with Fishbourne channel having the highest level of disturbance of all the sites surveyed in the Solent in winter 2009. This is probably due to the narrowness of the channel and the visibility of the footpaths surrounding it, as it is not the most heavily visited site of those surveyed.

Solent disturbance and mitigation project

The wider Solent, from Hurst castle in the west to Chichester Harbour in the east and including the Isle of Wight is internationally important for its wildlife interest and has a number of designations including three Special Protected Areas (SPAs).

Sites designated as SPA's are given special protection and as a consequence any plans or projects (including development) can only go ahead if it can be proven that there will be no adverse effects on the SPA. With new housing developments and the potential for a larger local population in Chichester, this can bring pressure on local recreational sites, through an increase in there use. The coast provides a particular draw for many people and numerous studies have shown that recreational pressure can have a negative impact on the bird species at coastal areas. 

Solent mitigation and disturbance project

The Solent mitigation and disturbance project looks at the issue and ways that the negative impacts on wintering waterfowl can be resolved. The impact of disturbance are more than birds flying away when approached. Areas which are regularly disturbed are more likely to be avoided by birds feeding and the birds which take flight from disturbance loose vital energy through lost feeding and increased flight.

To look at the impact of housing we need to understand how visitor access patterns on the Solent are linked to where people live. This issue however is more complex than determining how many local residents visit the coast. The closer the people live to the coast the more likely they will visit, so the spatial distribution of housing is likely to be an important factor in determining access. Activities undertaken by local residents are likely to depend on the range of opportunities for access in the general area and the physical characteristics of the coast.

Project Phases

Phase one of the project involved desk studies which looked at data and made recommendations for further work. These recommendations formed the later stages of the work.  The aim of the Solent Disturbance and Mitigation Project is to produce a model to predict the recreational use of sites in relation to housing. 

Phase two involved collecting the information needed to create the model. This information included;

  • On site visitor survey - where people were interviewed who visited the coast during January and February 2011. The interview mapped peoples routes, and asks questions about why people visited and what activities they are planning to do.
  • Bird fieldwork - was undertaken  during the winter of 2009/2010 and recorded how birds responded to disturbance, looking at how the birds responded at different distances and if there were areas which birds avoided.
  • Household survey - this was sent to 5000 homes across the Solent and asked questions relating to access to coastal sites.
  • Onsite visitor fieldwork - these were done in the winter of 2009/2010 and looked at the level and type of visitors in different locations.  A total of 784 interviews were conducted accounting for 1,322 people and 550 dogs. 

Findings

  • 6% were holiday makers
  • 42% of people were taking there dog for a walk
  • 89% of visitors stayed a maximum of 2 hours
  • 51% of visitors arrived by car and 46% on foot
  • 14% of the routes visitors use go below the Mean High Water Tide Mark where waterfowl will commonly feed during the winter
  • A total of 2,507 potential disturbance events were observed

Conclusions 

The level of disturbance recorded was determined by how people behaved and where they went rather than the actual volume of use. Activities that took place on intertidal were more likely to result in disturbance and 41% of observations resulted in disturbance. Though a range of activities took place, dog walking was of particular concern, with 27% of disturbances causing major flight by birds when the dog was off the lead. If you would like find out more about the project or would like to see the survey data, please see the  Solent Disturbance and Mitigation Project  website.

Community orchards

Chichester District Council has been supporting community orchards in the district since 2000, and has been able to help set up a number of orchard projects including many school orchards. The initiative stems from the action group 'Common Ground', who co-ordinate a national initiative to create and restore community orchards throughout England. The scheme is mainly focused upon apples, but projects could also include other traditional fruits such as pears, plums and cherries, or locally significant produce such as walnuts and cobnuts or where practical, hops.

About two thirds of Britain's orchards have been lost since 1960. Many of these orchards have been destroyed and replanted with cereals or ousted by new development from roads to housing. At Chichester District Council we consider the regeneration of existing orchards as just as important as new plantations to not only save these orchards from disappearing forever, but often the old orchards also provide a much needed source of local and rare varieties, whilst at the same time, being cheaper and easier to set up.

If you would like to find out where your nearest community orchard is; discuss setting one up; or for further information on financial assistance from the council's new single grant scheme, please contact the Environmental Strategy Unit.

 

Guidance on ecological surveys and planning applications

The council has a legal duty to consider conservation of biodiversity within the district. There are steps you can take before you submit a development proposal to save you time and money. These also will make sure you do not go against government legislation for the protection of wildlife.

If you are planning a development, please see our Planning application forms and guidance notes page, and read the guidance document.

Local wildlife in the garden

Your garden, and the other 15 million gardens in Britain, can make a huge difference by supporting wildlife. With increasing development and loss of habitats, gardens can provide vital shelter and food for a wide variety of different species. There are a number of ways to encourage wildlife to live and feed in our gardens and with a few simple steps you can transform your garden into a wildlife haven. The most important things you can do to attract wildlife into your garden are to provide food, water and shelter. This can be done in any size garden! Using chemicals to control pests can damage the other wildlife in your garden. Instead try some of the more nature friendly tips on this web page to sort out those pests.

 Shelter

All wildlife needs to rest, some create nesting sites and others need a place to hibernate. Here are a few examples of what you can do to give your local wildlife some shelter.

  • A pile of logs left in the corner of your garden to slowly rot down over a number of years, will provide an ideal home for insects and hedgehogs 
  • Keeping an overgrown area will provide an ideal spot for wildlife to rest and hibernate
  • Climbing plants not only look nice, but also provide shelter and breeding sites for birds. A perfect example is the Honeysuckle 
  • Shrubs and hedges provide nesting places and encourage hedgehogs, nesting birds, weasels, voles and wood mice into your garden
  • Leaving borders overgrown over the winter provides excellent shelter for insects
  • Nesting boxes can attract birds and bats

Year round food

You'll need to provide food and water and this is simple to do and can be incorporated into the plants you grow all year. Here is our simple guide for feeding wildlife in each season.

Autumn - A time to stock up on supplies

Many animals are increasing their food stocks for the winter period while others are preparing for hibernation in autumn. Some of the plants, which help local wildlife during these months include;

  • Ivy, Michaelmas Daisies, Asters and Sedium - a source of nectar for insects
  • Fruiting bushes and trees - provide a wide variety of fruits, which are eaten by birds hedgehogs and insects
  • Honeysuckle - provides berries for birds
  • Hedgerows (including Hawthorne, Rose Hips, Blackberries and Elderberries) - full of berries and haws for birds
  • Sunflowers and Thistle seeds - fallen seeds provide food for a variety of birds

Winter - A time to conserve

Winter can be a hard time for garden wildlife to find food but planting the following can help;

  • Verbene Bonariensis - long lasting flowers, which provide food for butterflies until the first frosts
  • Lungwort, Hellebores, Snowdrops - provide a good source of nectar for insects
  • Sweetbox Shrub - provides a good source of nectar for insects
  • Ivy - a source of berries in later winter months for birds
  • Fruiting Trees - fruit left fallen can provide a source of food

Spring - a time to grow

Spring is a busy time with creatures coming out of hibernation and other species hungry after the long winter months.  Include a number of these plants to help attract wildlife into your garden.

  • Bluebells, Hyacinth, Lesser Celandire, Daffodils and Snakehead fritillary - all early spring bulbs, which provide nectar for insects and a source of food for birds
  • Holly - provides berries for birds
  • Foxgloves - provides food for bees, butterflies and moth lava
  • Buddeja - an excellent source of food for butterflies

Summer - a time to bathe 

Summer is the most active time with a variety of species looking for food and their offspring venturing out of the nests.  Plants which provide food during the summer include; 

  • Lavender, Verbena and Iceplant - an excellent source of food for butterflies, bees and moths
  • Perennials with broad flower heads - encourage bees into your garden
  • Daisies and Clover - leave weeds in your lawn as these attract bees and insects

Water

You must remember to make water available in your garden.  You can do this by keeping your garden watered or leaving a bowl or birdbath for rainwater to collect in.

Extra food sources

There are lots of other household food items, which you could leave out for your local wildlife to supplement their diets.  Remember to only leave out food where you know the animals are visiting so you don't encourage rats.  Some of the tastiest treats include;

  • Nuts and seeds left in bird feeders and on tables
  • Hedgehogs enjoy meat based cat food, unsweetened muesli, sultanas, small pieces of fruit, light fruitcake, cooked chicken and raw meat
  • Badgers like wet cat and dog food, a variety of fruit (including apples, pears and plums), unsalted peanuts and Brazil nuts, and earth grown vegetables (including carrots and cooked potato)

Avoiding chemicals

Using chemicals can be harmful to the biodiversity of your garden.  Here are a few natural tips to help prevent damage from pests.

  • Stop Aphids by encouraging ladybirds and hoverflies into your gardens with plants that have lots of easy to reach pollen (including Daisies) 
  • Greenfly and Black fly don't like the smell of marigolds, so plant them near plants you want to keep bug free
  • Remove Vine Weevil by putting nematodes (very small parasitic worms which can be brought at your local garden centre) into your soil
  • Stop caterpillars by encouraging more birds into your garden who will eat them
  • Use natural fertilisers including seaweed and manure
  • Put cardboard or carpet around the base of your plants to prevent insects from laying their eggs
  • Grow something different each year to stop the build up of insects around plants
  • If you still have a pest problem, spray a very weak solution of soapy water on the infected areas.  Do this in the evening when most wildlife is less active and do not spray on the flower heads

Remember insects in your garden are helping to provide food for a variety of other species, which are most likely attracted to your garden because of the insects!

 

Parish habitat mapping

Do you know what and where your parish's most valuable natural assets are? If not, then why not get involved in a Parish Habitat Mapping project?

Despite a growing body of information on biodiversity in Chichester District, still not enough is known about the current state of our wildlife sites. An innovative way to improve this situation is to survey each parish to identify the habitats and areas of particular biodiversity importance. The information gathered from the survey is then converted into a colour-coded map and kept on record with the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre (SxBRC). The map identifies each type of habitat (e.g. woodland, grassland, heathland, hedges and swamp), rare or local species (e.g. sand lizards and water voles) and target areas.

Parish Biodiversity Mapping also identifies areas for action to protect and enhance biodiversity through local community involvement.

The Council can support individuals and groups who are interested in Parish Habitat Mapping by providing habitat identification training in conjunction with the South Downs Joint Committee. Financial assistance for base maps, field guides and mapping software Geographic Information System (GIS) can be obtained through the Wildlife Improvement Grant.

Existing Parish Map groups:

  • Bepton
  • East Dean
  • Ebernoe
  • Elsted & Treyford
  • Fernhurst
  • Harting
  • Lodsworth
  • Milland
  • Pagham Harbour
  • Plaistow
  • Rogate
  • Selsey
  • Stedham & Iping

Please contact us if you would like more information about the above groups and maps or would like assistance setting up a new mapping project.

Wildlife crime

If you are concerned about wildlife crime or would like more information about what to do if you see a wildlife crime taking place please see the information in this section.

What is wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime can be people buying, selling, harming or disturbing wild animals or plants that are protected by law.

Examples include:

  • Disturbing, injuring or killing bats or damaging or obstructing their roosts;
  • Disturbing or killing wild birds or taking their eggs;
  • Destroying a badger sett;
  • Poaching of game, venison or fish;
  • Poisoning of animals such as birds of prey;
  • The illegal use of snares, explosives or dogs to kill or injure animals;
  • Illegally trading in protected species;
  • Smuggling protected species and their parts (such as tortoises; ivory and caviar);
  • Taking protected plants from the countryside.

In some instances the killing or taking of protected plants or animals is allowed where someone has acquired a licence.

Why report wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime needs to be stopped because it reduces the numbers of rare animals and plants, pushing them closer to extinction. It also causes animals' pain and suffering and it can be linked to other serious crimes like drugs, money laundering and firearms offences.

What are the national wildlife crime priorities?

The following are the wildlife crime priorities in the UK. These priorities were identified because there is either a high volume of crime or there is the greatest threat to the conservation status of the species:

  • Bat persecution
  • Persecution of birds of prey
  • Poaching
  • Badger persecution
  • Illegal trade in International Endangered species 
  • Poaching for freshwater pearl mussels.

How to report wildlife crime

If you witness a wildlife crime in action, call 999 immediately and ask for the police. For your own safety do not approach suspects or touch anything at the scene.

To report a wildlife crime after the event or for other queries you can call the non-emergency number on 101, who can put you in contact with your local wildlife crime officer.

To remain anonymous, you can contact Crimestoppers:

Name:
Crimestoppers
Address:
United Kingdom
Telephone:
+44 0800 555 111
Email:

How Chichester District Council is combating wildlife crime

Chichester District Council officers sit on a Wildlife Crime Liaison Group with the Sussex Police and South Downs National Park to share information and coordinate action on wildlife crime in the district.