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Satellite tracks habitat changes

Space satellites could transform the way an environmental group gathers information about wildlife habitats across Wales. The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has been using data from the devices to find out about habitats and land uses.

It has teamed up with the British National Science Centre, which has a satellite passing over Wales every day. The success of a pilot scheme in the Berwyn mountains means it can now be extended to other habitats. The space technology could also be used to help CCW in locating habitats, as well as monitoring land use, planning fieldwork and assessing environments.

Developing these methods could lead to huge potential savings in staff time, effort and travel compared with traditional methods of surveying. Staff on the ground would be able to concentrate on surveying areas that were unclear on satellite maps.

The Berywn project is in the process of being completed and other satellite projects are now planned for other habitats in Wales. The pilot was set up under the GIFTSS (Government Information from the Space Sector) programme which is funded by the British National Science Centre (BNSC) to promote use of information gathered from space within government departments.