Wales, UK: Cutting-edge space technology is being used to capture Wales’ wildlife habitats. Rural grassland, upland bogs and moors are being mapped out using satellite imagery in a revolutionary project to monitor natural resources.
When completed in 2012, Wales will be the first country in Europe to have produced a national map of habitats using satellite imagery. The project updates original man-made surveys and is led by the Countryside Council for Wales in partnership with Aberystwyth University and geographic experts Environment Systems.
The last account of Wales’ wildlife habitats was conducted over several decades and completed in 1997 by a team of CCW biologists who roamed the country on foot. Now, using images from satellites which have passed over Wales, the old maps are being updated at a fraction of the cost and time.
Keith Davies, CCW’s head of environment policy, said, “Now that we can update the original maps and track changes, they will provide a sound, scientific basis for CCW’s advice to government, local authorities and others on how best to manage and care for Wales’ natural resources.”
Professor Richard Lucas of Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences said, “Satellite technology makes mapping and continual monitoring of the extent and condition of habitats and agricultural land so much easier and cheaper.”
“Through the use of satellite imagery, we have not only been able to update the habitat maps, but also provide a mechanism to monitor future changes. With new technologies, we can bring this information to a wider audience and play a key role in ensuring that Wales’ natural heritage is preserved for future generations.”
“This work demonstrates how collaborative working between a government body, the university and private business can provide Wales with an effective and efficient approach to providing the evidence underpinning environmental decision-making,” Keyworth added.
“With Wales taking the lead in using satellite data to assess and monitor the state of the environment, we can also help other regions and nations develop similar capability.”