In the investigation that will be undertaken, the aim will be to see if footpaths affect to the lack of biodiversity in plant species in certain areas of the High Elms.
Hypothesis- There will be a significant statistical difference between biodiversity in vegetation between footpaths and areas without footpaths.
Null Hypothesis- There will not be a significant statistical difference between biodiversity in vegetation between areas with footpaths and areas without footpaths.
Biodiversity is the number and variety of species in ecological systems. There is deep concern within the scientific communities that a human activity , such as trampling, is leading to a reduction in biodiversity. My small scale research investigation will measure biodiversity of plants near footpaths in woodlands at the High Elms Nature Reserve in Bromley . The High Elms is a nature reserve which is also an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) because it contains a wide range of habitats. For example the habitats range from woodlands (where I am sampling), chalk meadows and various ponds. The High Elms is popular not only because of its natural beauty, but it contains a large gold course which attracts many visitors, as well as an education centre where specialist ecologists teach kids about the environment.
The location of the footpath in question is also important to the investigation I will undertake. The footpath is very close to the BEECHE centre (education centre) and a café, as well as being noticeably close to the golf course, as can be seen in figure 1. The footpath is also right next to a large pond as can be seen in figure 2. This is significant as many students do sampling in this pond. Therefore, a high amount of tramping on vegetation will be expected as this footpath is used regularly. If we compare the vegetation of one near a footpath to vegetation not near a footpath, I would expect more biodiversity and species richness from the area of vegetation not near a footpath.
Similar research has been conducted to the topic in question before in the past. An investigation  by Richard Barnard named ‘Development of an indicator of footpath erosion in Warwickshire using Plantain’, used the plant plantain to measure soil erosion near footpaths. His studies concluded plantain was ousted by more competitive grass species in the eroded parts near the footpath. The investigation was undertaken in Coventry in a grassy meadow, similar to the environment of the high elms, where my investigation will be undertaken. In succession, whether it is primary or secondary, bigger plants usually dominate the later stages . Therefore these larger plants occupy more space. Bigger plants trounce smaller opposition plants in competing for abiotic factors such as sunlight and water.
The Bromley biodiversity action plan calls for proper management of established habitats and the plan also highlights why increased biodiversity will be beneficial to the local people of Bromley . The research conducted could therefore supplement the Bromley biodiversity action plan, if the data collected is complementary to the hypothesis, it could demonstrate how much trampling affects certain habitats in the amount of biodiversity present.
If the investigation produces reliable results, it can be useful to the site where the research was conducted (High Elms). It could possibly affect the way the High elms manage their footpaths. Considering the High Elms is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) , the need to maintain a wide variety of plant biodiversity and species richness in various ranges of the nature reserve is vital. The results collected may show clear evidence that trampling affects levels of biodiversity, and if it does, the organisation which manages the High Elms, a new, revised Bromley biodiversity action plan can be put in pace, as well as revising management techniques for footpaths in…