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Identifying priority habitats for wildlife – with OS data.

Natural England's priority habitat inventories hold data about nationally important areas of conservation (such as lowland meadows and blanket bog).
However, the varying quality of information made the database difficult to maintain. Thanks to OS’s MasterMap Topography Layer, the separate datasets have been consolidated into a single layer, saving staff time, effort and money.

What were the challenges?

  • Maintaining a database of 1150 species and 65 habitats listed as priorities for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).
  • Keeping this important reference source accessible and up to date, therefore underpinning conservation action across the UK over the next decade.
  • Creating a system which allows for varying quality of the input data (often with considerable overlaps between individual habitat layers).

What was the solution?

Ordnance Survey's MasterMap provided a consistent boundary framework enabling Natural England to bring the disparate datasets into a single habitat layer, in which polygons can be attributed with main and/or additional habitats. Where its habitat mapping provided more detail then the OS MasterMap, polygons were split, as long as no new polygons below the minimum mapping unit were created.

What were the outcomes?

  • Collated information: Natural England was able to develop an automated process, which collates existing habitat data within 24 datasets into a single layer.
  • Saved time: If this process had been undertaken manually it’s estimated it would have taken the equivalent of one person working full time for 12 years.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 1.6MB


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