The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE) has been studying land use and the effects of land use on ecology for two decades. A series of national field surveys have been undertaken by the Land Use Section of ITE since 1978, the most recent being Countryside Survey 1990 (CS 1990). The three-year project brought together field survey and remote sensing data which were analyzed using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). National and regional land-cover patterns were described and changes estimated. The data collected by the field survey part of CS1990 recorded stratified samples based on a land classification. Thematic maps for surveyed 1-km squares covered physiography, agriculture and semi-natural vegetation, forestry, structures and boundaries. The same sites were surveyed in 1984 and 1990 with 14 000 digital maps produced describing both years. GIS was used to generate stock figures for each year, and overlay allowed change between survey dates to be estimated. GIS was used to compare data collected from both field survey and satellite imagery so that both sets of information could be qualified when expressed as national figures. This paper describes the historical development of the ITE Land Classification, examines the way in which data were collected for surveys, with particular reference to Countryside Survey 1990, and shows how satellite and field survey data can be linked through GIS
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