ABOUT THE PROJECT
ARCH Project: an Interreg IVA - Two Seas Cross Border Co-operation Programme
ARCH aimed to improve the way in which key species and habitats are maintained, restored and expanded in Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais. This was carried out by sharing information and jointly developing methods that assess the condition of habitats and species by improving the way in which they are mapped, and by using innovative techniques to secure their long term monitoring and conservation in line with the Gothenburg targets of halting biodiversity loss across Europe.
ARCH enables a wide range of stakeholders across Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais to use biodiversity information in a more efficient and precise manner. A system that can be interpreted at various levels for the collection, storage and analysis of natural habitat data has been adopted, and tools for managing information on species are now available. The feasibility of using innovative techniques to develop and implement a long-term system to monitor changes in extent, quality and fragmentation of habitat across the project area were investigated.
The Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais regions share a common natural heritage (internationally valued woodlands, chalk grasslands, and wetlands) arising from the same geological base and have been shaped by similar climates and human land use. These similarities made it obvious for both parties to seek a joint solution to common challenges by way of exchanging and transferring ideas and expertise on nature conservation. The conservation of biodiversity is a priority in the planning strategies of authorities on both sides of The Channel, in Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais.
The “Trame Verte et Bleue” of Nord-Pas de Calais, translates as the willingness to restore and reconnect a natural and multifunctional ecological infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Valley of Visions project is working with communities, landowners and local groups to conserve the landscape, wildlife and rich heritage of the Medway Valley in Kent, and encourages local communities to learn about and enjoy the area.
ARCH was developed to address the current lack of:
- Base line data and precise cartography on the extent and condition of the natural environment in Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais that can be interpreted at local, regional and international level
- A joint approach to habitat assessment across Kent and Nord-Pas de Calais, which allows for comparison of data and effective cross-border work
- An integrated approach that allows proposed developments to be rapidly screened at the planning stage for potential impact on biodiversity
- A long-term, sustainable system that facilitates on-going assessment of condition and extent of our natural environment
- A method by which fragmentation in the landscape can be measured and understood
- Opportunities to share with European colleagues techniques, experiences and possible solutions to problems arising from common challenges i.e. development pressure, lack of evidence based-decision making, etc.
ARCH has created the opportunity for a cross-border approach to:
- Understand the rate of habitat change and improve the management of valuable areas
- Establish a base methodology for determining fragmentation in the landscape for future habitat protection and restoration
- Exchange ideas on habitat assessment, conservation and management at a European level
- Develop and adopt a more sustainable system for assessing the state of the natural environment
- Improve access to up-to-date information for various users, e.g. local planning authorities, land and wildlife advisors, public and private land owners and developers, etc
- Encourage ecological evidence-based decision making during spatial planning, policy development and management of the natural environment
- Communicate the importance of our natural environment to a wide range of audiences and to disseminate the project results and findings to other organisations across the Two Seas area and in other European countries