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. Henrys11Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK 2Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreuzwaldi 5, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
Received: 24 Feb 2017 – Accepted for review: 06 Mar 2017 – Discussion started: 06 Mar 2017
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.
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., doi:10.5194/essd-2017-17, in review, 2017.
Claire M. Wood et al.
Claire M. Wood et al.
Countryside Survey 1978 vegetation plot data
C. J. Barr, R. G. H. Bunce, S. M. Smart, and H. A. Whittaker