© Teresa Morris

Mapping Wild Rusland

Bringing together data on priority habitats for the first time to create a comprehensive GIS database to build a picture of their extent, condition and current management.

This project brings together habitat data for the first time to create a GIS database that builds a comprehensive picture of the extent, condition and current management of priority habitats in the Rusland Horizons scheme area.

Organisations and the local community are able to use the data and maps to make land management decisions that will maintain and enhance the landscape and its wildlife.  The data is available to view on the CBDC website:

Nationally, through Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services, there is an emphasis on improving the quality and extent of priority habitats and building resilient ecological networks at a landscape scale. Mapping Wild Rusland is a pilot that we will use to develop an approach suitable for roll out across the National Park and Cumbria.

The mapping process for translating the Rusland Horizons habitats survey data into GIS format has occurred in three main stages:

  • Mapping of the Phase 1 Habitat Survey
    • Digitising habitat survey and target notes.
    • Filling gaps using survey information and OS OpenData.
  • Mapping of Farm Environment Plan (FEP) Habitat Features
    • Digitising FEP habitat survey data
    • Adding farm management agreement options as a separate layer
  • Creating the Rusland habitat layer
    • All the mapping habitat data were integrated and the outcome habitats were classified into three categories;
      • Priority habitats
      • Broad habitats
      • Additional habitats

The project:

  • Improves the awareness of the current extent, condition and management of important / priority habitat located within the scheme area.  It highlights the diversity and importance of habitat in the area.
  • Has piloted an integrated approach to collating, digitising and caterogising habitat data.
  • The new GIS data and maps will help farmers with submission of applications to Countryside Stewardship. In particular, the ability to view the spatial data across multiple land holdings may increase the possibility of successful agri-environment scheme applications in the future.
© Teresa Morris

So far so good...

  • All the survey data has been gathered together, digitised and categorised.
  • CBDC developed a new process for digitising the Phase 1 Habitat Surveys.
  • Over 6,500 polygons in the new GIS database have been drawn, annotated and checked.
  • CBDC have written their report about the GIS database and how it was produced.
  • interactive maps are created and hosted by CBDC’s website:
  • You can download pdfs of the habitat map layers below.

Did you know?

A Phase One Habitat Survey was carried out for Cumbria in the 1980s. This identified and mapped all the different types of habitat in the area. It provides a useful baseline for monitoring any changes in the landscape, but it was all produced on paper, using different coloured pencils, so it is difficult to use in this digital age.

Click on READ to download the maps of priority habitat, broad habitat and additional habitat.

Project Lead

Rusland Horizons Staff Team

The Challenge

Habitat data for the Rusland Horizons area has been collected and stored by a number of organisations and individuals over a long period of time. This information is in a variety of formats and is largely paper based. As such, it remains inaccessible to a range of people and organisations, including the local community, who could make much better use of it to inform sustainable management of the area. We also know that, locally, there are inaccuracies in the nationally produced Priority Habitat Inventory which means that as a tool for local use and site specific work, the national dataset has limitations.

Our Approach

Partners in the National Park Authority, Natural England, Forestry Commission and Cumbria Wildlife Trust are pooling data. We are working with the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre to build a new, comprehensive GIS database that digitises and maps the priority habitats in the area.

We will use the collated information to provide an opportunity for the local community to discuss and explore what the local landscape means to them. It will be a chance to consider the value that is placed on the different habitats in the area, the links with ecosystem function and services and how they should be shaped for a sustainable future.

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2019. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons is a Landscape Partnership funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund