The survey teams have now finally hung up their waterproofs following a successful summer in the field. Survey was completed in 94% of all sites originally targeted – an outstanding achievement in light of the unforeseen challenges that arose during the course of the fieldwork; notably flooding and the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which meant that some sites could not be accessed. In total, 591 1km squares were surveyed across Great Britain, making this the biggest Countryside Survey to date (the previous highest total being 508 squares in 1998).
One of the biggest successes was the use of digital data capture which involved, for the first time, use of portable tablet PCs to record information in the field. Data was backed-up daily to avoid accidental loss and overall the process proved much more efficient and reliable than using paper survey forms, which can be spoiled by wet weather.
Facts and figures from the field survey include:
- The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology undertook the whole of the Field Survey using 90 field staff, supported by co-ordinators and data specialists
- Over 9,000 days of surveyor effort were invested – roughly 25 years’ worth of study in total
- Health and safety was of an excellent standard with only two minor accidents reported (twisted ankles)
- The teams at CEH Monks Wood undertook the fastest survey, managing an average of 1.71km squares per week
- One surveyor from CEH Banchory calculated that she walked 234km, involving over 12,000m of ascent, just getting to the squares!
The Countryside Survey project management team would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and well done to everyone involved, and to especially thank the land-owners and organizations who permitted the surveyors to access their land.