Estimating the extent and change in Broad Habitats in Great Britain

D. C. Howard, J. W. Watkins, R. T. Clarke, C. L. Barnett, G. J. Stark

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33 Citations (Scopus)


A stratified random sample of kilometre squares in Great Britain was visited and completely mapped using four areal themes (agriculture and semi-natural vegetation, forestry, physiography and buildings and communications). The maps were digitised and the attribute information recorded to produce an electronic database. Information was summarised by square and then bootstrap re-sampling techniques were used to produce national estimates with statistical confidence intervals. The results for 1998 showed the terrestrial Broad Habitats had a range in extent covering two orders of magnitude from Montane (49 000 ha) to Improved Grassland (5482 000 ha). Just under half of Britain is covered by agricultural Broad Habitats, about 12% by woodland and just under 10% by Urban Habitats. The remaining quarter of the land area is covered by semi-natural Broad Habitats. By revisiting the same sample of squares previously visited in 1990, changes in the quantity and quality of the Broad Habitats have been determined. Significant increases in area have occurred in the Broadleaved, Mixed and Yew Woodland and Built Up and Gardens. The largest areal reduction was in Acid Grassland although that was in part balanced by a gain in Fen, Marsh and Swamp. The most significant ecological loss was in the area of Calcareous Grassland. The consequences of having different sample sizes for the different years are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-227
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • broad habitat
  • Great Britain
  • Countryside Survey 2000
  • change 1990-1998
  • bootstrap


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