What happens in the survey?
The ERAMMP National Field Survey builds on the Glastir Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (GMEP) surveys conducted between 2013-2016 and for consistency aligns to the methods of the UKCEH Countryside Survey of Great Britain, which provides robust estimates of indicators at national and sub-national level across Wales, England and Scotland.
The ERAMMP survey in 2021/2022 will revisit 130 1km by 1km squares surveyed under GMEP to measure changes in the Welsh countryside over time to evaluate the effect of land being in the Glastir land management scheme.
At each location, the team of professional surveyors will record or collect:
Vegetation: Assessments are made to record plant species, with vegetation change expressed by habitat type and landscape location.
Soil cores: Topsoil (0-15cm) is sampled from 5 points across each survey square in the same place as the vegetation assessment, enabling changes in key topsoil characteristics to be studied, and the link to vegetation change to be better understood.
Soil erosion: Soil degradation features such as erosion are recorded for comparison to an earth observation study.
Landscape photography: Fixed point photographs are taken to provide repeatable images to monitor visual landscape change over time.
Historic environmental features: The condition and threats of nationally important Scheduled Ancient Monuments and regionally important Historic Environment Features is recorded on features prioritised by CADW.
Public rights of way: Condition of paths is recorded on digital maps.
Woodland and linear features: Extent, composition and condition are mapped, including woodland point features such as veteran trees.
Freshwaters: Headwater streams and ponds are assessed for characteristics such as area, physical and chemical characteristics (i.e. depth, conductivity, pH, turbidity) and for wetland biology (i.e. plant communities, invertebrates). The stream survey broadly follow River Habitat Survey methods.
In addition, in over 75 of the locations, surveyors will record:
Birds: The total number and habitat of breeding pairs of bird species present in the survey squares.
Pollinators: Three main insect groups are recorded: butterflies, bees and hoverflies. Butterflies are recorded to species level, whilst bees and hoverflies are recorded as groups based on broad differences in morphological features associated with ecological differences.
What is analysed?
The soil and water samples are analysed in the UKCEH laboratories in either Bangor or Lancaster, or by specialist analytical services.
Samples are prepared for detailed chemical and physical analysis.
For soil samples we will measure:
- pH (acidity/alkalinity)
- Loss on ignition
- Bulk density
- Moisture content (volumetric & gravimetric)
- Peat depth
Past measurements have also included invertebrates and microbes. These analyses are not being repeated this time but frozen and dried samples
are being archived to enable future analysis should funding become available.
The water samples are analysed for:
- A selection of structural, hydrological and biological attributes
- counts of invertebrate species and diatoms
- categories of aquatic plant species
The collected samples and observations, past and present, are studied to detect short and long-term trends. All of the samples and data are stored in the UKCEH secure archive facilities in Bangor and Lancaster.
By adopting the ‘ecosystems approach’ of co-locating all of the measurements, the research scientists in UKCEH can detect and quantify the interconnected drivers and impacts of environmental change and make broader estimates of environmental measures across all of Wales.