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Countryside Survey: measuring habitat change over 30 years: 1978 data rescue - final report\ud

By C.M. Wood, D.C. Howard, P.A. Henrys, R.G.H. Bunce and S.M. Smart


The Countryside Survey programme field records for land-cover and landscape features are held by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in hard copy format. These data have been collected at varying intervals (1977/78, 1984, 1990, 1998/99 and 2007) in Great Britain to form a globally unique long-term, large-scale monitoring dataset. \ud The data from 1984, 1990 and 1998 were scanned as part of a previous project (CS2000 FOCUS - Scoping and Pilot study for scanning Countryside Survey primary field data documents). The linework for these years was digitised prior to 2000, and the 2007 data were recorded directly onto rugged field computers.\ud However, the 256 annotated land-cover maps for the 1978 Countryside Survey squares had never been digitised into a GIS format before 2009 (although the areas and lengths had been recorded using rudimentary digitising tools in the 1980s). Before this data rescue project was undertaken, these primary source records of long-term monitoring of land-cover and landscape features from the 1978 Countryside Survey programme were at considerable risk of damage, loss or destruction. In addition, the data were unavailable in a spatial form as a resource on a daily basis to CEH staff or to a wider range of researchers. The Countryside Survey 1978 Data Rescue project has allowed digitisation of the maps, which provide the ability to analyze Countryside Survey data in relation to Broad Habitat categories as far back as 1978, which was previously not possible. Converting the 1978 Countryside Survey land-cover maps into digital form effectively adds a completely new\ud survey dataset for land-cover to the existing surveys carried out in 1984, 1990, 1998 and 2007. For the first\ud time, this allows us to extend the time series of matched vegetation and Broad Habitat data back to a critical\ud period that coincides with the culmination of post-WWII intensification of agriculture. This increases the\ud reliability and power of the entire time-series for estimating stock and change in Broad Habitats across the full\ud thirty year period. It will also provide new information on the impact of land-use as a driver of ecological\ud variation in plant species composition and soils in 1978.\ud During the project, the field codes used in 1978 were allocated to BAP Broad Habitats (Jackson, 2000) and\ud individual areas were scrutinised to enable consistency between the 1978 dataset and data from later years’\ud surveys. It is now possible to characterise the mosaic of broad habitats as they existed across GB thirty years\ud ago, in terms of coincident plant species and soil data (pH and Loss on Ignition) recorded at the same time.\ud This report incorporates a summary of work completed on the dataset and also comments and discussions\ud made at a Workshop in Grange-over-Sands and project meetings involving Colin Barr, Bob Bunce, David\ud Howard, Simon Smart, Claire Wood, and Peter Henrys (CEH project NEC03689, 2009-2011)

Topics: Botany, Ecology and Environment, Data and Information
Publisher: NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Year: 2012
OAI identifier:

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