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A model of the extent and distribution of woody linear features in rural Great Britain

Ecology and Evolution


Hedges and lines of trees (woody linear features) are important boundaries that connect and enclose habitats, buffer the effects of land management, and enhance biodiversity in increasingly impoverished landscapes. Despite their acknowledged importance in the wider countryside, they are usually not considered in models of landscape function due to their linear nature and the difficulties of acquiring relevant data about their character, extent, and location. We present a model which uses national datasets to describe the distribution of woody linear features along boundaries in Great Britain. The method can be applied for other boundary types and in other locations around the world across a range of spatial scales where different types of linear feature can be separated using characteristics such as height or width. Satellite-derived Land Cover Map 2007 (LCM2007) provided the spatial framework for locating linear features and was used to screen out areas unsuitable for their occurrence, that is, offshore, urban, and forest areas. Similarly, Ordnance Survey LandForm PANORAMA (R), a digital terrain model, was used to screen out where they do not occur. The presence of woody linear features on boundaries was modelled using attributes from a canopy height dataset obtained by subtracting a digital terrain map (DTM) from a digital surface model (DSM). The performance of the model was evaluated against existing woody linear feature data in Countryside Survey across a range of scales. The results indicate that, despite some underestimation, this simple approach may provide valuable information on the extents and locations of woody linear features in the countryside at both local and national scales.

Author(s): Scholefield, P; Morton, D; Rowland, C; Henrys, P; Howard, D; Norton, L

Journal: Ecology and Evolution

Year: 2016