Getmapping imagery has been used extensively in a recent survey of brownfield sites in the Thames Gateway, Europe’s largest regeneration area. The resulting report published by the wildlife charity Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, highlights the alarming loss of habitats supporting rare species and nationally important invertebrate populations.
Between 2005 and 2008 Buglife with Natural England carried out an extensive survey of the Thames Gateway area mapping over 450 sites and identifying 198 brownfield sites of high and medium importance for invertebrates. Brownfield sites are becoming increasingly important by providing refuges and links to other habitats to sustain biodiversity. In the Thames Gateway brownfield sites 15 priority species were identified some of which are not found elsewhere in the UK.
Ironically the main threat to biodiversity in these areas, which nature has so successfully reclaimed, is regeneration which is focused primarily on brownfield land. The Buglife report has identified substantial losses of important brownfield sites as a result of new development and the failure of brownfield safeguards within the planning system. The report recommends a higher level of protection for brownfield sites of biodiversity value to ensure they are not developed in the future.
For the recent survey work Getmapping supplied aerial imagery of the whole Thames Gateway area, as a seamless layer delivered via a WMS feed. “Having the imagery as a WMS feed is really convenient,” said Jamie Robins from Buglife. “We simply subscribe to the feed from within our GIS and have immediate access to a seamless layer of high resolution imagery. There is no data to manage, and no servers to update. Much of the imagery was very up to date and even in areas where the imagery was older we still had a very useful layer that we could use to zoom into individual sites to assess and prioritise for a visit. The original 198 sites were re-categorised as intact, partially destroyed, completely destroyed or having planning permission granted, continued Robins.
“This is a great example of supplying wide area aerial imagery in the most convenient way,” said Dave Horner, Managing Director of Getmapping. “WMS has really taken off in the last few years enabling direct feeds from hosted datasets, relieving organisations of their IT overhead and data management issues. We now have a wealth of data available as a WMS feed including our own up to date and archived layers of aerial imagery plus the complete stacks of Ordnance Survey PSMA and OpenData mapping.”
The full Buglife report: ‘The state of brownfields in the Thames Gateway’