CDUG webinar

Lucy Butler from the Rivers Trust, and Tamsin Appleton from Environment Agency held another CDUG meeting today to update us on what projects are currently being delivered, using maps and data.

After introductions of 39 participants, the first session was from Jeff Edwards from Natural England, on National Priority Habitat Network Mapping Project. This project created individual habitat network maps for habitats that have an inventory related to them. This process takes the priority habitat inventory for that particular habitat, whilst considering that habitats don’t work in total isolation. Therefore 4 habitat components are used in each habitat network map, providing the 4 primary aspects of habitat in that network.

Fragmentation zones are identified, which are smaller patches where action could be taken to improve the level of habitat. Expansion zones are also identified as segments which join up habitat zones and fragmentation zones. This can lead to maps with overlapping zones, creating a combined habitat network map.

There are also Habitat Potential maps, indicating where appropriate conditions are more likely to support habitat creation or restoration. These are created as a guideline for delivery of nature-based solutions and biodiversity net gain. They can help target restoration of ecosystems and offer opportunities to deliver more ecosystem services. This can help form part of a local nature recovery network, with the aim to improve existing habitat, making it more ecologically resilient as well as looking at opportunities to deliver other biodiversity benefits.

Habitat network maps provide a standard mapping tool to incorporate local data and identify where priorities may be in terms of biodiversity. They offer the potential to inform local decisions and consider local priorities, opportunities and constraints.

Habitat Networks dataset available online -

The next talk was from Ellie Brown, Ribble Rivers Trust, about the Health & Wellbeing Mapping database that she has been developing. Ellie uses GIS data to facilitate effective catchment management and make use of resources available.

One GIS based analysis Ellie has been working on recently is improving health and wellbeing through environmental improvements. Looking at one example in Lancashire, we were shown the positive impacts of the environment and green spaces on wellbeing. Analysis involved collating data from national datasets, related to health, activity and wellbeing. From the data, we could then identify the areas of highest obesity and inactivity, and therefore where creation of or better access to good open spaces could really benefit people, help lessen the impact that diseases had on people lives, and lessen the impact on the NHS. There was lots of data that all could be addressed and analysed.

The data could also be used to highlight areas with multiple issues. Creating open green spaces in these areas could tackle lots of issues at once. Plus, local communities could get involved with some projects, such as planting trees to improve access to woodlands.

Data was used to see where the environment could be enhanced to have the greatest impact on people’s health and wellbeing. A number of datasets were used to identify where these priority locations were. Maps were overlayed to show multiple criteria/aspects e.g. poor air quality, flooding, poor access to open spaces. From this, locations were identified where green/open spaces could be implemented to provide the greatest impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Ellie also stressed the multiple benefits of projects, as the use of a combination of other data and GIS based analysis could identify where wildlife and the environment could also benefit within these high priority areas already identified. These maps can then be used to help decision making within local councils, to benefit people, wildlife and the environment.

The analysis for Lancashire is published on the Ribble Rivers Trust story map online -

The next talk was from Ben Green and Keith McGruer, Environment Agency, on Coastal Habitat Restoration Data. Ben introduced the Restoring Meadows, Marsh and Reef (ReMeMaRe) project, looking to restore coastal habitats that benefit people and nature. This project aims to restore 15% of our priority habitats along the English coast by 2043 in line with Defra 25 year plan. This encourages strong environmental leadership to undertake the right initiatives at the right time. The project provides support to undertake restoration and research and development work; develops tools; and brings together networks through conferences and webpages to share information around this project.

Ben then mentioned Restoration Potential Maps that have been modelled in order to identify where stakeholders could provide restoration or enhancement e.g. saltmarsh. These maps instigate discussion with stakeholders and provide useful information for those wanting to understate such restoration projects.

Keith then discussed the layers in more detail, including Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), Salinity data, and Wave & Current Energy data. Potential Habitat layers can be created using data from The Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN). These are available on the Coastal Data Explorer on the CaBA website

Datasets help identify and plan restoration, and people locally can see what restoration is being planned. Keith & Ben also mentioned how the restoration potential maps can be modelled to show potential future scenarios, for example how restoring certain areas would perform under certain climate change scenarios.

Following this talk, Anneka France from the Rivers Trust talked about the Catchment Monitoring Cooperative Consultation. This scheme hopes to create a radical step change in the citizen science and community monitoring by non-statutory organisations, and how that can contribute to evidence based schemes. All data produced through the cooperative will be of known quality, stressing the need to use standardised methodologies to understand monitoring.

Anneka outlined what needs to be done for the consultation including:

  • Standardised methods of data collection
  • Training to make it more accessible for people to join and help monitor
  • Use data for analysis
  • Make this sustainable (funding)

The Catchment Monitoring Cooperative Working Group has been set up, made up of organisations actively bidding for funding to improve the cooperative. The initial funding has been secured and will be used to develop the proposal and consultation; develop an online citizen science hub and online training resources; and establish a Data Platform Integration working group which tests out platforms. The consultation on the proposal is still open -

Following Anneka’s talk, Lucy Butler from the Rivers Trust gave an update on the upcoming CDUG Forum in August.

Thanks to all at the Rivers Trust and Environment Agency for hosting this informative webinar. It is great to hear how datasets are continually being used for useful analysis, to aid evidence-based decision-making.


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