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River Otter – River Corridor Audit

Devon Wildlife Trust/ Environment Agency

DBRC are currently working with Devon Wildlife Trust on an Environment Agency project concentrating on the Otter catchment and adjoining River Love.  Using proven techniques from the delivery of Parish Biodiversity Audits, we have created a predominately desk-based, River Corridor Audit methodology to map habitat types and land use around the river. This may be used as a basis to target future work priorities and opportunities in the catchment.

Habitat data is derived from aerial photo interpretation (API), habitat survey cards (e.g. County Wildlife Sites, Other Sites of Wildlife Interest), stewardship agreements, BAP habitat layers and “ground truthing” (from roads and other public rights of way).

An area 50m either side of the river is mapped using Integrated Habitat System (HIS). The resulting output will provide high resolution GIS data to inform advisory/technical staff or lower resolution outputs suitable for a wider audience.

Features identified include:
Line of trees and areas of encroachment
Erosion of banks
Cattle crossings
Direction of drilling (ploughing)
Land use such as arable, gardens, commercial activity
Woodland type
Unimproved/improved grassland
Stewardship status HLS/ELS
Fenced to river boundary/open to river boundary

The river Otter flows through East Devon passing through many farms, hamlets and villages.  Adjacent land ownership can be complex, and access for survey can be restricted for a number of reasons.  This methodology provides a wealth of useable information, cost effectively, however further on-the-ground survey derived from identification of hotspots will then direct in-stream works over the next few years.

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