Landscape Planning and Heritage

Hampshire Biodiversity Opportunity Areas

What are Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs)?

BOAs are specific geographical areas with the best opportunity to restore and create habitats of regional importance. They are defined entirely on the basis of identifying those areas where conservation action is likely to have the most benefit for biodiversity based on existing biodiversity interest and opportunities for enhancement. The purpose of BOAs is to guide support for land management as they represent those areas where assistance for land management and habitat restoration would have particular benefit.

BOAs are central to the South East Biodiversity Strategy which provides a framework for delivering nature conservation across the region. They are not statutory designations and do not infer any constraint to development or land use but are meant as a guide to decision-making for land management. Within Hampshire 41 BOAs have been identified which are grouped into 8 themes (see BOA themes and names for a complete list, BOA overview map for where they are and BOA maps for each BOA boundary).

How were the maps produced?

The Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC) and its partners undertook the project on behalf of the Hampshire Biodiversity Partnership. Common standards were drawn up by the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre to ensure consistency in scale and coverage across the counties (see Mapping Methodology Microsoft Word 505kb for more details). In Hampshire detailed GIS modeling was used, along with existing detailed habitat mapping, to initially identify the opportunity areas.  The areas then underwent extensive consultation with a wide range of organisations and individuals to ensure that they represent the best opportunities for Hampshire.  The final map of opportunity areas has now been adopted by the Hampshire Biodiversity Partnership.

How are BOAs useful?

  • BOAs are part of a ‘landscape-scale approach’ to nature conservation that aims to make wildlife more robust to the changes in climate and other pressures, by restoring large areas of continuous habitat.

  • BOAs are designed to guide land management for the benefit of biodiversity. They aim to complement the work of regional and local organisations to target land management support schemes and initiatives.

  • The comprehensive mapping of areas of opportunity will inform green infrastructure and other spatial plans.

Next steps

Following on from the identification of the BOAs, work is now underway to understand more about current land management projects and influences affecting each of these keys areas. This review will identify gaps in the provision for biodiversity and will flag up opportunities and priorities for focusing future work.