CaBA Biodiversity Pack

Organisation: CaBA Biodiversity Group

Type: Technical Support & Training

The ‘CaBA Biodiversity Pack’ has been produced to support catchment partnerships and others in their delivery of freshwater and wetland biodiversity projects.

Building on a host of existing habitat management guidance, the pack aims to:

  1. Provide an ecological explanation of why natural ecosystem function is important to our freshwater and wetland wildlife; and
  2. Set out specific management messages to help guide decision making in catchments, promoting the restoration of natural processes across a number of key freshwater and wetland habitats.

The audience for the pack is all those involved in delivering biodiversity in catchments, including catchment partnerships and their constituent members, land managers and others.

An introductory factsheet describes the policy drivers relevant to delivery in our freshwater environments. The factsheets which follow set out what natural ecosystem function looks like for a range of freshwater & wetland habitat types, and why this natural functionality should be valued – these simple, habitat-specific guides should be useful when developing proposals for habitat restoration schemes, and in discussing ideas with landowners and communities.

The pack then considers the implications for species conservation, and finally, describes a methodology developed by the Freshwater Habitats Trust for identifying ‘Important Freshwater Areas‘- areas rich in biodiversity and which could form an important component of a naturally functioning catchment.

As well as being a working group under CaBA, the CaBA Biodiversity Group performs a parallel function as the Water & Wetlands Group, a sub-group of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Group. The TBG is a national partnership set up to facilitate the delivery of outcomes relating to Priority Habitats and Species under the Government’s strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services, Biodiversity 2020. The work of the Water and Wetlands / CaBA Biodiversity group is endorsed by TBG.

The Water & Wetlands Group aims to promote national aims and targets for wetland priority habitats and species amongst local delivery groups, including Catchment Partnerships – its existence as the only habitat-focussed working group established under the TBG is testament to the important opportunities that CaBA presents for progressing biodiversity delivery across our catchments.

Pack Contents

  • Biodiversity and WFD
  • Habitat Guides:
    • Rivers
    • Headwaters
    • Lakes
    • Ponds
    • Wet grasslands
    • Wet Heaths
    • Reedbeds
    • Bogs
    • Fens
    • Wet Woodlands
    • Coastal and Estuarine Habitats
  • Key Species
  • Enhancing Biodiversity
  • Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) for Nature’s Recovery


Biodiversity and WFD

This factsheet describes the policy drivers relevant to delivery in our freshwater environments.

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Rivers and Streams

Rivers and Streams encompass an extremely broad range of habitats, from intermittent headwaters, to energetic upland brooks and sluggish lowland rivers.

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Headwaters are the ephemeral and permanently-flowing tributaries feeding a river system.

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Lakes, broadly defined as standing waterbodies of over 2 hectares in surface area, exhibit great variety in terms of size, depth, productivity and characteristic species.

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Ponds are permanent and seasonal standing water bodies up to 2ha in area, often found ‘nested’ within other, larger habitat types.

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Wet grasslands

Wet Grassland is a broad habitat type of floodplains which includes the species-rich cropped meadows and grazed pasture of the lowlands, and species-poorer grazing marshes of floodplains and coastal areas.

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Wet heaths

Wet heaths are damp areas found within both lowland and upland heathlands. Characterised by a dwarf vegetation of heathers and gorses, heathlands occur on impoverished mineral and peaty soils.

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Reedbeds are stands of tall flood-tolerant vegetation occurring typically in areas of shallow water, dominated by stands of common reed alongside a more diverse community including reedmace, reed sweet-grass and other tall emergents.

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Bogs are particular types of wetlands which are fed only by direct precipitation (in contrast with fens, fed by enriched groundwater or surface flows).

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Fens are peatlands that are fed by surface water, groundwater or flood flows as well as precipitation.

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Wet woodlands

Wet Woodlands are woods which experience waterlogged conditions for at least part of the year, occurring on poorly drained or seasonally wet soils. Alder, birch and willow thrive, and the habitat is important for bryophytes and for invertebrates of wet areas or deadwood.

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Key species

Achieving Biodiversity 2020 objectives means taking action not just for habitats but also for the species that they support.

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Saltmarshes are near-horizontal platforms characterised by a largely continuous cover of salt-tolerant (halophytic) vascular plants (grasses, rushes and shrubs).

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Seagrass meadows are a a critically endangered EU red listed habitat and are extremely important in terms of stabilising the seabed, providing habitat and sequestering carbon.

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Native Oyster Beds

Native Oyster Beds provide a range of valuable ecosystem services including: filtering algae and organic matter from the water column; removing nutrients; providing habitat and refuge for a diversity of organisms; and providing an economic benefit to local communities through oyster fishing.

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Restoring estuarine and coastal habitats with dredged sediment

This guide aims to support the restoration of estuarine and coastal habitats and the more sustainable management of sediment resources, with benefits including, but not limited to improved biodiversity, water quality, carbon sequestration and adaption to climate risks.

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Enhancing biodiversity

Natural Ecosystem function can be considered as a key principle around which the restoration of wetland biodiversity can be planned.

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Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) for Nature's Recovery

The guide explains the principles of how natural ecosystem functions like hydrology and sediment processes, when considered and incorporated into NbS, offer the best opportunities for maximising biodiversity benefits at the same time as tackling other societal issues. It provides illustrative case studies that project designers can adopt to ensure that schemes offer the greatest opportunities for delivering natural ecosystem function to support nature’s recovery.

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Find out more about the CaBA Biodiversity Group

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