Scots renewable experts draw up predictive sea-bed maps for Scottish Natural Heritage

Example of predictive mapping of sea-bed conservation area
Example of predictive mapping of sea-bed conservation area

Scottish Natural Heritage has hired a Scots renewable energy developer to predictively map the spatial extent of habitats in 25 special areas of conservation and three marine protected areas throughout Scotland.   

Using the best available data, Dumfries-shire-based Natural Power created a tailored approach combining spatial mapping, imagery classification and predictive statistical mapping to overcome variations in the quality of existing data for Scottish waters. 

In many sites, the mapping improved upon previously mapped polygons by using more recently collected data, and in a few sites no previous mapping was available, so the outputs provided the first mapped extent of habitats and features of interest in that area. 

Andrew White, geospatial manager at Natural Power, said: “Over the past 15 years, we have developed a wealth of experience delivering mapping, data analysis, and web GIS services to help clients deliver their projects as smoothly as possible.

“The GIS skills we have developed ensure that our GIS team can not only support renewable energy but can also deliver dedicated GIS analysis on a wide range of projects.” 

The mapping was completed to provide either improved distributions of habitats or to delineate the extent of features and habitats with no previous mapping. This improved data would crucially help to inform the future management of these sites.

The ability to accurately map the extent of Annex I habitats and features is highly dependent on the quality of the collected data available, therefore the final mapped products vary dramatically in resolution and accuracy between sites. Overall the accuracy of the mapping to determine the extent of Annex I habitats is between 70% and 80%.

The maps produced by Natural Power will also help Scottish Natural Heritage to decide where further surveys might be required.

19 Feb 2018

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