The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Earth Surface Dynamics

Abstract

Availability of knowledge of the processes, dynamics, landforms and materials of the physical landscape is vital for sustainable environmental management and for development projects, risk reduction, resource use, and future planning under scenarios of climate change. It is essential for ecological conservation and biodiversity strategies and for conservation of our landscape heritage in Britain and Northern Ireland (NI). This proposal is for the foundation stage of an ambitious project to establish an interactive website which will make existing research knowledge of the physical landscape of Britain readily accessible to end-users. It will see the development of the "Physical Landscape of Britain" website (landscapebritain.org.uk), targeted at professional end-users, which include engineering consulting companies, government agencies concerned with environmental management and conservation, and major landowners and landscape managers. The major end-user partners involved in this proposal, representative of these spheres, are: Mouchel and Halcrow companies; Natural England, The Environment Agency; and The National Trust.
Geomorphology is the science that analyses how physical processes, act on the Earth's surface to create landforms and landscapes. This project is promoted by the British Society for Geomorphology (BSG) on behalf of the geomorphological research community in Britain.
Much research output is not readily available to potential end-users and there is a lack of awareness of potential benefits of this knowledge. This project is designed to overcome those deficiencies. The foundation phase will build on a pilot study to develop a spatial database of information, create a digital bibliography and produce an interactive website that provides lists and a digest of existing relevant published data. This database will be searchable both textually and spatially through a web map interface.
This application is for funding to enable the crucial stage of design of the website interface and database to be completed, for a usable website to be populated with information for selected major parts of Britain, and for the facility to be made available to all potential end-users. End-user partners will provide guidance on what kind of information they require, how they use the information and what are the existing gaps in knowledge and thus help to design a valuable resource, and also eventually to set the future research agenda relevant to society's needs. The project will have feedback to the academic community in increasing their awareness of the key issues and challenges being faced by end-users in environmental management and thus for academics to see how their research could help.
This project will provide essential evidence for evidence-based Government policy-making and will increase effectiveness of public services and design of appropriate policy and practices by enhancing availability of knowledge of landscape processes and materials, of past changes and environmental change impacts, and occurrence of hazards as inputs to sustainable environmental management and conservation. Economic benefits will arise from reducing desk study costs and increasing awareness of geomorphological and ground conditions affecting development, as well as more effective planning of infrastructure in relation to natural hazards and likely future environmental changes. Ecological conservation requires geodiversity and the maintenance of the physical habits so geomorphology is an essential component of ecological management. The landscape heritage and enjoyment of landscape are important for a high quality of life and health so knowledge of process and evolution of landscape are fundamental to aiding interpretation and fulfilling those needs.
This project aims to provide access to information, data and knowledge on the geomorphology of the British landscape to professional end-users to enable them to deliver these benefits.

Planned Impact

Availability of knowledge of the processes, dynamics, landforms and materials of the physical landscape is vital for sustainable environmental management and for development projects, risk reduction, resource use and future planning under scenarios of climate change. It is essential for ecological conservation and biodiversity strategies and for conservation of our landscape heritage in Britain and Northern Ireland (NI).
The potential benefits of making existing knowledge more available and accessible and providing syntheses of present knowledge are immense and include economic and social benefits and improvement of environmental quality and well-being. Direct end-users and beneficiaries include engineering and environmental consulting companies, government agencies responsible for environmental and hazard management and organisations involved in conservation and landscape heritage.
Economic benefits will arise from avoiding projects being undertaken in Britain with insufficient knowledge of geomorphological conditions, past changes, material characteristics, assessment of impacts of future changes, timescales and nature of responses, interactions and feedbacks any of which may have significant economic consequences because greater knowledge would have been highly beneficial to the execution of the project. Desk studies at the start of projects to extract information from multiple sources at present require time and significant cost. Also, lack of available information can lead to unforeseen ground conditions which can escalate costs in later stages of a project. An interactive web-based resource would be of great benefit as it may provide relevant information at an appropriate scale. The database could provide understanding to ensure that mapping, surveys and subsurface investigations are carefully targeted and that natural hazards are observed and geo-risks are managed from an early stage.
Benefit will accrue in the delivery of public services and policy, particularly in the spheres of hazard management, and implementation of national and European policy. Scientific knowledge of geomorphology is currently underused by flood risk management practitioners in the UK. From a flood and coastal erosion risk management perspective the EA consider this proposal has the potential to contribute to a number of key goals outlined in their Corporate Plan, namely: better understand the risks of flooding and of coastal erosion; ensure strategic plans take full account of our evidence and knowledge; develop a long-term evidence-based view of the coast; develop a strategic approach to maintenance including channel conveyance. It will also assist in delivery of the WFD (Water Framework Directive) which includes hydromorphology Landscape scale assessments will also be required for the European Landscape Convention.
Benefits for quality of life arise from sustainable management, which involves understanding process interactions and feedbacks and their impacts in order to avoid detrimental consequences, from conservation of landscape and of biodiversity. Ecological conservation requires geodiversity and the maintenance of the physical habits so geomorphology is an essential component of ecological management, as increasingly recognised by ecologists. Geomorphological functioning is a very important part of ecosystem services (ES) and ES is now a major framework for government (eg Defra) decision-making. Awareness of the contribution of physical processes and landscape dynamics is essential for water management, for soil conservation, for agriculture, and for enjoyment and well-being services but needs to be increased. The landscape heritage and enjoyment of landscape is an essential part of a high quality of life so optimum use of information and the value added of interpretation will be beneficial to organisations such as The National Trust and Natural England.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The knowledge exchange project provides a single point of access to information and research results on the physical landscape of Britain, that is its geomorphology. It has produced a spatially interactive website linked to a bibliographic database. The website is searchable by location and/or topic. Summaries of landscape characteristics and research in landscape areas of Britain are provided.
Exploitation Route Much research output is not readily available to potential end-users such as engineering and environmental consulting companies and government agencies and there is a lack of awareness of potential benefits of this knowledge. Lack of prior knowledge of aspects such as physical processes, materials, dynamics of change, or incidence of natural hazards, can be costly to development projects and may mean inappropriate design and environmental management with insufficient concern for sustainability. The information on published research is not readily available to those outside the academic community and they do not have time to investigate whether publications are relevant. Thus this website will save time and money, will avoid some detrimental consequences and will improve environmental quality and well-being. This project has produced an interactive website to enable knowledge exchange between academic researchers and end-users covering all aspects of the physical landscape (geomorphology) of Britain and Northern Ireland. A vast amount of research has been undertaken in Britain and NI which can provide place-specific information which would be of value to those concerned with environmental management and understanding of that locality including topics of wide concern, eg flood hazards, slope instability. Availability of knowledge of the processes, dynamics, landforms and materials of the physical landscape is vital for sustainable environmental management and for development projects, risk reduction, resource use and future planning under scenarios of climate change. It is essential for ecological conservation and biodiversity strategies and for conservation of our landscape heritage in Britain. The website enables searches by location and key terms and provides guidance on the research information available. The website has been designed and constructed and is populated with research publications details for selected areas, indexed by area and key word.
Sectors Environment,Transport

URL http://landscapebritain.org.uk/
 
Description Knowledge exchange Production of spatially interactive website giving information on research publications about the physical landscape at searchable locations in Britain.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Society for Geomorphology 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 07/2014
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Society for Geomorphology 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2012 
End 07/2013
 
Title Physical Landscape of Britain 
Description Bibliographic database allowing spatial and topic searches of relevant publications 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Use by organisations to find relevant published research 
URL http://www.landscapebritain.org.uk/
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Website
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland 
Organisation Halcrow Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Website
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland 
Organisation Mouchel Group PLC
Department Mouchel Parkman Plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Website
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution website
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Website
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Launch publicising the website at RGS. Production of leaflets . Dissemination through partner organisations.

Some of partners asked for more information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.landscapebritain.org.uk/