Researchers at the University of Liverpool are creating a new online resource to enhance knowledge of the physical landscape of Britain and improve the management of natural hazards, wildlife habitats, and countryside leisure areas.
Information on the dynamics, landforms and materials of Britain’s physical landscape is essential for sustainable environmental management and for projects relating to climate change and conservation. Research on this subject has been published across a variety of academic journals, but there is currently no central resource where information on all studies can be accessed.
The Liverpool team, in collaboration with Kingston University, London, are creating searchable online maps that link areas of Britain with research into the physical environment. The resource will be developed over next 12 months and is aimed at civil engineering companies, land owners, government agencies and local authorities, conservation trusts and environmental managers.
Professor Janet Hooke, from the University’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Knowledge of the landforms, materials and processes of the landscape is vital for managing the environment. Construction project managers, for example, should know about liability to landslides or of river channel movements. Major land managers need to know about past rates of change and effects of climate variation, and habitat conservationists need to understand how changeable the physical conditions can be.
“Research has been undertaken into these aspects of the landscape in many parts of Britain. The difficulty, however, is that this information is scattered across various publications over a considerable period of time. The absence of such information can prove costly to land and buildings projects, as well as have a damaging impact on the sustainability of the natural environment.
“We will bring new and current research together and establish a searchable data base linked to a map of the country that will identify sources of information on the dynamics and physical features of Britain’s landscape. Easy access to this knowledge will allow us to conserve the landscape and maintain habitats and biodiversity. It will also ensure that development is sustainable and ultimately increase our enjoyment of the countryside and its heritage.”
The research is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and supported by the British Society for Geomorphology.