You are using an outdated browser that does not fully support the intranda viewer.
As a result, some pages may not be displayed correctly.

We recommend you use one of the following browsers:

Full text

Remote sensing for resources development and environmental management
Damen, M. C. J.

Symposium on Remote Sensing for Resources Development and Environmental Management / Enschede / August 1986
The application of remote sensing to urban bird ecology
L.M.Baines & W.G.Collins
Remote Sensing Unit, University of Aston, Birmingham, UK
P. Robins
Operational Research, University of Aston, Birmingham, UK
ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to assess the feasibility of a
remote sensing system to determine the carrying capacity of urban
habitats for certain species, in this instance, woodland birds.
Investigations were carried out into the relationship between
variables which can be identified from the air photographs and bird
populations. The major variables examined were habitat area and
habitat dispersion. Evidence of an relationship between the number
of bird species and habitat area was found, but as yet the results
are too inconclusive to allow predictions.
The value of green areas in the urban
environment has been recognised by many
offical bodies in recent years. "Everyday
contact with the natural world is essential
to a healthy physical, mental and spiritual
existence". (Nature Conservancy Council,
1984). Increasingly statutory bodies and
local authorities are aware of the role they
play to ensure urban wildlife is considered
in planning and land management decisions.
Recently the now-extinct West Midlands County
Council produced a valuable document "The
Nature Conservation Strategy for the County
of West Midlands" which stressed the need for
the enhancement or creation of semi-natural
open spaces to benefit urban wildlife and the
residential population. This trend is not
only evident in the UK, but throughout the
'developed world'. However semi-natural open
space is only one of the competing land uses
in the urban environment and therefore a
compromise will always have to be made
between the demand for green areas and the
demand for development. As a consequence
there is a need for a method to identify
which areas are valuable ecologically and
thus try, if possible, to steer development
away from these to less valuable options.
One method of allocating a value to urban
open space is to identify the area's carrying
capacity for a species of interest.
The aim of this paper is to assess the
feasibility of aerial photography to
determine the bird carrying capacity of an
urban woodland. If it is possible to predict
bird population numbers from air photographs
the population rate of change due to
development can be determined. Aerial
photographs have been used in a number of
studies concerned with bird population
prediction, (Skaley 1981, Lancaster and Rees
1979), however either the technique has been
too complex or the photographs have been used
merely as an addition to field data rather
than as a data source in themselves.
The Blackbrook Valley is situated in the
heart of the industrial Black Country in the
West Midlands. It is approximately 300
hectares of common land in a dense industrial
and residential area. The heavy industry
which once dominated this area has declined
leaving high unemployment and dereliction.
As a method to try and encourage industry
back into the region, the northern section of
the Blackbrook Valley was designated an
Enterprise Zone in 1981. One of the
attractions of an Enterprise Zone to industry
is the lack of planning controls therefore
industrial development has and is posing a
threat to a valuable wildlife area. A local
nature reserve has been established in the
southern part of the valley - Saltswells
Nature Reserve (41.2 hectares). This is
comprised of a large area of mixed deciduous
woodland planted at the end of the eighteenth
century and an abandoned fireclay pit which
has geological and ecological value. The
anaylsis has concentrated on the nature
The Nature Conservancy Council (N.C.C.)
commissioned two sets of imagery of the study
area. Large scale panchromatic, colour and
colour infra-red photography (1:2500) was
flown in the summers of 1981 and 1984
providing complete coverage of the area.
Interpretation was carried out using an old
Delft stereoscope and the colour infra-red
photography. This emulsion was found to
provide the greatest amount of detail for
this particular project. A monoscopic zoom
transferscope was used to transfer the
information extracted from the air
photographs on to a 1:2500 scale base map.