Rare and threatened habitats in Europe must be restored and enhanced in accordance with the European Union's Habitats and Species Directive. In the United Kingdom, conservation and expansion objectives for species and habitats are outlined in the Species Action Plans and Habitat Action Plans. Site identification for these measures has to date been ad hoc without consideration of either the existing "stock" of the natural resource or the ability of the surrounding land use to deliver the enhancement (enlargement) of a given habitat. Using a Geographical Information System, we outline a targeting system for creating new woodland in association with existing ancient woodland in the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The aim was to create woodland blocks of at least 100 ha, as being of the most benefit to biodiversity. We identified existing patches of woodland between 20 and 50 ha as cores for habitat expansion and classified land use in terms of its suitability and proximity to these core areas for tree planting to meet the targets of the statutory body. Our results suggest that the targeting method employed is a useful tool for habitat restoration. © 2002 Academic Press.
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