Journal cover Journal topic
Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-17
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
06 Mar 2017
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Long-term vegetation monitoring in Great Britain – the Countryside Survey 1978–2007 and beyond
Claire M. Wood1, Simon M. Smart1, Robert G. H. Bunce2, Lisa R. Norton1, Lindsay C. Maskell1, David C. Howard1, W. Andrew Scott1, and Peter A. Henrys1 1Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK
2Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreuzwaldi 5, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
Abstract. The Countryside Survey (CS) of Great Britain provides a unique series of datasets, consisting of an extensive set of repeated ecological measurements at a national scale, covering a time span of 29 years. CS was first undertaken in 1978 to monitor ecological and land use change in Britain using standardised procedures for recording ecological data from representative 1 km squares throughout the country. The same sites, with some additional squares, were used for subsequent surveys of vegetation undertaken in 1990, 1998 and 2007, with the intention of future surveys. Other data, for example regarding soils, freshwater and habitat diversity and extents, have also been sampled in the same locations on analogous dates. However, the present paper describes only the vegetation surveys.

The survey design is based on a series of gridded, stratified, randomly selected 1 km squares derived from a statistical environmental classification of Britain. 256 1 km sample squares were included in the 1978 survey, 506 in 1990, 569 in 1998 and 591 in 2007. Initially each square contained up to 11 dispersed vegetation plots but additional plots were later placed in different features so that eventually up to 36 additional sampling plots were recorded, all of which can be relocated where practically possible, providing a total of 16,992 plots by 2007. This database of vegetation plots is a unique national resource providing the only comprehensive quantitative ecological coverage of Britain, with a time-series of vegetation samples dating back to 1978. Plots in different habitats, land cover types and landscape features are included.

Although a range of analyses have already been carried out, with changes in the vegetation being related to a range of drivers at local and national scales, there is a major potential for further analyses, for example in relation to climate change.

Data from each of the survey years (1978, 1990, 1998, 2007) are available via the following DOIs: Countryside Survey 1978 vegetation plot data (https://doi.org/10.5285/67bbfabb-d981-4ced-b7e7-225205de9c96), Countryside Survey 1990 vegetation plot data (https://doi.org/10.5285/26e79792-5ffc-4116-9ac7-72193dd7f191), Countryside Survey 1998 vegetation plot data. (https://doi.org/10.5285/07896bb2-7078-468c-b56d-fb8b41d47065), Countryside Survey 2007 vegetation plot data (https://doi.org/10.5285/57f97915-8ff1-473b-8c77-2564cbd747bc).


Citation: Wood, C. M., Smart, S. M., Bunce, R. G. H., Norton, L. R., Maskell, L. C., Howard, D. C., Scott, W. A., and Henrys, P. A.: Long-term vegetation monitoring in Great Britain – the Countryside Survey 1978–2007 and beyond, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-17, in review, 2017.
Claire M. Wood et al.
Claire M. Wood et al.

Data sets

Countryside Survey 1978 vegetation plot data
C. J. Barr, R. G. H. Bunce, S. M. Smart, and H. A. Whittaker
https://doi.org/10.5285/67bbfabb-d981-4ced-b7e7-225205de9c96
Countryside Survey 1990 vegetation plot data
C. J. Barr, R. G. H. Bunce, M. K. Gillespie, C. J. Hallam, D. C. Howard, L. C. Maskell, M. J. Ness, L. R. Norton, R. J. Scott, S. M. Smart, R. C. Stuart, R.C., and C. M. Wood
https://doi.org/10.5285/26e79792-5ffc-4116-9ac7-72193dd7f191
Countryside Survey 1998 vegetation plot data
C. J. Barr, R. G. H. Bunce, M. K. Gillespie, D. C. Howard, L. C. Maskell, L. R. Norton, R. J. Scott, E. R. Shield, S. M. Smart, R. C. Stuart, J. W. Watkins, and C. M. Wood
https://doi.org/10.5285/07896bb2-7078-468c-b56d-fb8b41d47065
Countryside Survey 2007 vegetation plot data
R. G. H. Bunce, P. D. Carey, L. C. Maskell, L. R. Norton, R. J. Scott, S. M. Smart, and C. M. Wood
https://doi.org/10.5285/57f97915-8ff1-473b-8c77-2564cbd747bc
Claire M. Wood et al.

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Short summary
The Countryside Survey (CS) of Great Britain consists of an extensive set of repeated ecological measurements at a national scale, covering a time span of 29 years. CS was first undertaken in 1978 to monitor ecological and land use change in Britain using standardised procedures for recording ecological data from representative 1 km squares throughout the country. The vegetation component has subsequently been repeated in 1990, 1998 and 2007, and changes may be related to a range of drivers.
The Countryside Survey (CS) of Great Britain consists of an extensive set of repeated ecological...
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