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Habitat Inventory

Worcestershire Habitat Inventory 

Habitat

The Worcestershire Habitat Inventory (WHI) is a digital mapping project led by Worcestershire County Council involving field-by-field survey of the county to document habitats and land use. It provides an important baseline of information about the natural environment of Worcestershire that can help the Council and our partners make the best possible decisions regarding the protection and enhancement of biodiversity in our countryside.

Increasing recognition of the value of biodiversity has led to important international and EU treaties. This has resulted in changes to national policy and the passing of legislation such as the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006), which gives public bodies a statutory duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity at both a strategic and an operational level. The WHI is an important resource to help ensure we meet this duty.

Aerial photograph interpretation was used to map habitats and land use in a Geographical Information System (GIS), with the first map iteration completed in 2008 using an aerial photograph set flown in 2005. Other datasets, such as national habitat inventories published by Natural England, were also incorporated as appropriate. Using a GIS allows for data to be easily managed, queried, overlaid and compared. Some parts of the county have subsequently been ground-truthed where further information was required.

The WHI is intended as a tool to aid decision making by planners, land managers, conservation bodies and others, principally to inform the targeting of habitat restoration and creation projects.

The raw data within the WHI was analysed to produce two main outputs:

  1. Habitat Network Maps
  2. Biodiversity Basemaps

Uses: now and in the future

The WHI is already being used to inform Worcestershire County Council planning officers in their decision-making processes, provide the baseline evidence needed to assist the development of the Worcestershire Green Infrastructure strategy and to help target delivery of the county Biodiversity Action Plan.

Our current priority for the WHI project is to make the mapping available on the web to district planners and the public and provide training on data interpretation. We are keen to develop data management systems to help monitor our progress as a Local Authority in meeting our obligations on biodiversity and to explore how the WHI can be used by communities to foster ownership of their local natural environment. 

In the longer-term we intend to update the WHI by obtaining new aerial photograph sets, carrying out further ground-truthing of key sites, incorporating any new or newly available survey data, updating the Data Capture Tool and incorporating Climate Change adaptation modelling into the project.

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This page was last reviewed 31 January 2014 at 12:29.
The page is next due for review 30 July 2015.