Inferring changes in land use in Great Britain from the Countryside Survey datasets

Barr, C. J; Howard, D. C.; Watkins, J. W.. 2001 Inferring changes in land use in Great Britain from the Countryside Survey datasets. [Speech] In: Detecting environmental change. Science and society, London, UK, 17-20 July 2001. 2.

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Land use is an event that has both temporal and spatial qualities. It is relatively straightforward to record the spatial aspects, i.e. the land cover, but the temporal part is much more demanding. Collecting information on use and changes in land use is time consuming and often requires one-to-one interviews with farmers and land managers. Response rates may be disappointing and resultant information can be variable in quality. Alternative means of gathering such information are worth exploring. Fortunately, there is a close relationship between land cover and land use. The primary purpose of the Countryside Surveys of 1978, 1984, 1990 and 1998 has been to make estimates of the national and regional stock of land cover, landscape features, vegetation, soils and freshwater biota, and changes in these over time. However, as part of the data collection, information is recorded which allows inferences to be made about the use to which different recorded land parcels are being put at the time of survey. Some land use data are recorded routinely as part of the survey protocol (eg livestock type, woodland use, building type), other data give good evidence for certain land uses to be in operation (eg certain habitats present, dominant tree species, presence of grouse butts) and some data infer something about the quality of land usage (eg gappiness of hedges, dominance of certain grass species, age of tree species). The potential of the CS database to quantify land use, as a driver of change, has not been fully explored until now. This paper describes a re-examination of the land in the 569 1 km CS sample squares throughout Great Britain to produce estimates of the area of land under different land uses, with additional information on the sub-types of land use and the quality or intensity of land management. Change in these metrics is computed over time and results are compared generally with independent sources of land use information (such as the MAFF June Returns, the Farm Business Survey and other, targeted surveys). It is concluded that the Countryside Surveys are able to detect change in some land uses but others are difficult to validate using external data due to differences in definitions, methodology and timing of surveys.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Speech)
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Other
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Pre-2000 sections
Additional Keywords: environmental classification, Countryside Survey, datasets, land use
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 04 Mar 2009 12:16 +0 (UTC)

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