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Countryside Survey 2000. Editorial

By L. G. Firbank


The need and rationale to survey, assess and continually monitor the state of ecosystems at small and large spatial scale have become understood and accepted by the educated public. Growing environmental concerns have given these activities ever greater scientific importance and political weight (Reid, 2000). Some decades ago, the growing perception of global change added the element of urgency.\ud \ud An important step in the development of thought and practice in floral and faunal inventories and integrated ecosystem assessment in the UK was the Countryside Survey Programme. Initially conceived as a single survey of British vegetation in 1978, it has developed into a programme of continuous assessing and monitoring vegetation, land cover, landscape features, soils, freshwaters and birds. In this special issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, we report some of the major findings of the latest phase of field surveys, known as Countryside Survey 2000, concentrating, where possible and appropriate, on the changes observed in the states of ecosystems since the previous surveys in 1978 and 1990.\ud \ud In the first paper, Firbank et al. introduce the Countryside Survey Programme. The development and approach are explained and some of the survey results and work experiences presented. The state of the natural environment in Great Britain are assessed and the recent changes are described in the following papers. Howard et al. look at changes in land cover, expressed in terms of Broad Habitats, and produce a comprehensive classification of the land into ecologically meaningful units. Petit et al. then describe changes affecting quality and extent of different types of field boundaries, so important for landscape quality. Smart et al. report on recorded changes in vegetation since 1990. Black et al. report results of a new element of the Countryside Survey, the first national survey of soil biodiversity in Britain. Haines-Young et al. focus on the regional aspects of changes in stock and condition of ecosystems. Finally, Cooper et al. report on the Countryside Survey of Northern Ireland.\ud \u

Topics: Ecology and Environment, Data and Information
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1016/S0301-4797(02)00173-1
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