Journal cover Journal topic
Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-131
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Review article
08 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).
Land cover and vegetation data from an ecological survey of `key habitat' landscapes in England, 1992–93
Claire M. Wood1, Robert G. H. Bunce2, Lisa R. Norton1, Simon M. Smart1, and Colin J. Barra 1Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK
2Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreuzwaldi 5, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
aformerly at: Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Merlewood, Windermere Road, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6JT, UK
Abstract. Since 1978, a series of national surveys (Countryside Surveys) have been carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (formerly the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology) to gather data on the natural environment in Great Britain. As the sampling framework for these surveys is not optimised to yield data on rarer or more specialised habitats, a survey was commissioned by the then Department of the Environment (DOE, now the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, DEFRA), in the 1990s to carry out additional survey work in English landscapes which contained semi-natural habitats that were perceived to be under threat, or which represented areas of concern to the Ministry. The landscapes were: lowland heath, chalk and limestone grasslands, coasts and uplands. These landscapes were chosen from a list identified as `key habitats' in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, an agri-environment scheme initiated in 1991. The survey design was a series of gridded, stratified, randomly selected 1 km squares taken as representative of classes derived from environmental classifications (or spatial masks) for each of the four landscape types in England determined from a statistical land classification. This resulted in a total of 213 of these squares being surveyed in the summers of 1992 and 1993, with information being collected regarding vegetation species, land cover, landscape features and land use. Data from the survey were collected using standardised, repeatable methods, with the database now providing a valuable baseline against which future ecological changes, resulting from a range of different drivers, may be compared. Following the surveys, the data were analysed and described in a series of contract reports showing that valuable habitats were restricted in all landscapes and that the majority were within designated land. The data set provides major potential for analyses, beyond those published in the reports published in 1996, for example in relation to climate change, agri-environment policies and land management. Precise locations of the plots are restricted, largely for reasons of landowner confidentiality. However, the representative nature of the data set makes it highly valuable for evaluating the status of the associated landscapes and vegetation covered. Both land cover data and vegetation plot data were collected during the surveys in 1992 and 1993, and are available via the following DOI: https://doi.org/10.5285/7aefe6aa-0760-4b6d-9473-fad8b960abd4. The spatial masks are also available from: https://doi.org/10.5285/dc583be3-3649-4df6-b67e-b0f40b4ec895.

Citation: Wood, C. M., Bunce, R. G. H., Norton, L. R., Smart, S. M., and Barr, C. J.: Land cover and vegetation data from an ecological survey of `key habitat' landscapes in England, 1992–93, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-131, in review, 2017.
Claire M. Wood et al.
Claire M. Wood et al.

Data sets

Habitat and vegetation data from an ecological survey of terrestrial key habitats in England, 1992-1993
C. J. Barr, R. G. H. Bunce, R. P. Cummins, C. J. Hallam, M. Hornung, and C. M. Wood
https://doi.org/10.5285/7aefe6aa-0760-4b6d-9473-fad8b960abd4
Spatial masks for calcareous, coastal, upland and lowland heath landscapes in England [Key Habitats 1992-93]
R. G. H. Bunce, T. W. Parr, J. Ullyett, M. Hornung, F. Gerard, R. Bull, R. Cox, and N. J. Brown
https://doi.org/10.5285/dc583be3-3649-4df6-b67e-b0f40b4ec895
Claire M. Wood et al.

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Short summary
In the 1990s, ecological survey work was carried out in English landscapes containing semi-natural habitats that were perceived to be under threat, or which represented areas of concern ("key habitats"), complementing the national "Countryside Survey" of Great Britain. The landscapes were: lowland heath, chalk and limestone grasslands, coasts and uplands. Standardised procedures were used to record ecological data from representative 1 km squares throughout England in 1992 and 1993.
In the 1990s, ecological survey work was carried out in English landscapes containing...
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