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Footpath Extent Assessment Project (Cannock Chase SAC)

Whilst DBRC predominately undertake project work within the county or in partnership with other regional Local Records Centres, on occasion our skills are required within national projects or in trialling techniques in one-off situations.  During late 2013 and early 2014 DBRC were commissioned by a partnership including Staffordshire County Council and one of our own partners, Natural England.

Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC), located within the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and between the towns of Stafford, Rugeley and Cannock, is designated for its dry and wet heathland habitats.  Evidence based assessment for Local Plan preparation by Districts and Boroughs in the southern part of Staffordshire has demonstrated that the SAC habitats are suffering adverse effects from recreation.  There is an extensive footpath network and observation and experience of site managers indicated that widening of paths and creation of new paths are resulting in habitat loss and increased fragmentation of heathland blocks. 

The Local Authority partners required robust evidence to support preparation of a mitigation strategy that would be funded by developer contributions where residential development is permitted within a recreational zone of influence likely to contribute additional recreational pressure on the SAC.

DBRC were engaged to use aerial photo analysis to:

• Provide information on trends in effects of recreation use on Cannock Chase SAC, with specific regard to paths, tracks and firebreaks.

• Provide a baseline for future monitoring of recreational impacts on the SAC as demonstrated through the path, track and firebreak resource.

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