A review of Scottish Natural Heritage's work in subtidal marine biotope mapping using remote sensing
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is working, in collaboration with the other Country Agencies and the Crown Estate through the Broadscale Mapping Project (BMP) hosted at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne, on the development of techniques for marine biotope mapping. The aim of this project is to develop a working tool to carry out comprehensive broad scale mapping surveys of sublittoral habitats and communities (or biotopes). Reliable marine benthic information, at a suitable level of detail, is required by SNH in its work in conservation management of coastal ecosystems. Increasingly it is required to assist with the implementation of the EC Habitats Directive through the identification, designation, management and monitoring of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and for the protection of threatened species. The work to date has developed a survey strategy which employs a basic, low-cost acoustic system to produce maps, ground-truthed using a variety of techniques. The maps provide an estimation of the geographical distribution and extent of the biological resources in the survey area. The current paper provides a review of the areas covered to date and some examples of the use this information, in particular the resource maps, has been put to by SNH to support environmental management.
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