Assessing historical saltmarsh change; an investigation into the reliability of historical saltmarsh mapping using contemporaneous aerial photography and cartographic data

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    Abstract

    Habitat protection, creation and management are at the forefront of nature conservation throughout the world. Many terrestrial and marine ecosystems are under pressure from a diverse range of issues including impacts associated with climate change, multiple resource use and increased development. Saltmarsh within the United Kingdom, is one such valuable habitat which has suffered significant losses over the last eighty or so years. Any environmental management practice or decision applied to these areas, should ideally be based on evidence of processes and change. One potential way of measuring saltmarsh change is by using historical maps and aerial photographs to look for patterns of growth or reduction. This research examines the process of saltmarsh mapping and compares historical aerial photographs and maps to assess their suitability for habitat change assessment. This research suggests that whilst historical aerial photography can be accessed and utilised effectively, the data presented on maps should be treated with a great deal of caution. The saltmarsh represented on the maps used in this research was noticeably different from that mapped using aerial photographs from a similar time period. Whilst this does not dismiss the use of historic maps along this part of the coast, it does suggest they should be treated with some degree of caution and will vary in their reliability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)503-514
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
    Volume17
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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