NatureScot Interactive habitat network user tool
This GIS tool is web based, freely available and requires no specialist software or GIS expertise from the user. It can be accessed at:
It allows a user to view maps of existing habitats and the networks they create, and zoom in or out to a range of scales. It also allows the user to scenario plan for land management - through drawing a shape on the screen, assigning a land use choice from a drop down list, and then viewing the effects the new change has on the existing habitats and networks. This can then be printed out, or amended, or refined, or the process begun again.
It is currently only available for the Central Scotland Green Network area, plus Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park and the Scottish Borders. The habitats viewable are broadleaved woodland, heathland, neutral grassland, acid grassland and ‘wetland’ (ie the landcover class ‘fen, marsh and swamp’). Please see the IHN key messages for more information.
[The ‘woodland’, ‘grassland’ and ‘wetland’ layers have been produced by Forest Research under the 2009-11 IHN study: ‘heathland’ and acid grassland has been produced by Scottish Natural Heritage (2011). All the networks viewable are ‘generalist networks’ – see IHN key messages for more details.]
Please also be aware that habitat networks are only one of many data layers that need to be considered before land use decisions should be made.
Using the tool
The weblink takes you to a map of Central Scotland. You can enter a postcode or zoom to your area of interest, and scroll across by left clicking the mouse and holding. You can also zoom by left clicking whilst holding the SHIFT key and highlighting the size of the area you’re interested in.
GIS Tool - welcome screen.
GIS Tool - zoom to area.
Click the ‘View Habitat Networks’ button to select a habitat and networks you’re interested in. You can select ‘Habitat’, and ‘Moderate Dispersal’ and ‘High Dispersal’ Networks1 . You can also adjust the transparency of the network colours by clicking on the sliders and moving them up and down. You can also select various other map layers (such as designated sites) by clicking on ‘View Other Map Layers’ and selecting from the list.
GIS Tool - view Habitat Networks.
GIS Tool - fade Habitat and Networks.
To scenario plan, select ‘Create Networks’. Also select ‘Moderate’ or ‘High’ dispersal according to your requirements. Click on the ‘Draw a Shape’ to draw a shape on the screen which represents the specific area you’re interested in.
NB the tool will prompt if the overall screen area displayed is too large to analyse - this prevents the tool from overloading.
GIS Tool - create networks.
GIS Tool - draw a shape.
Assign a land use option from the drop down list. By clicking on ‘Generate Networks’, an analysis is performed which should only take a few seconds.
GIS Tool - assign a land use choice.
GIS Tool - generate networks.
You can also draw shapes on the screen and assign land use options to represent changes and rectify discrepancies in the base map – for example if other habitat patches are now present (such as new woodland planting), or there’s been a new housing development.
After analysis, the screen will show the number of individual networks in the screen area, and size of the new network created (ie the functional extent the new shape/land use creates. In this example the new shape/land use has an area of 0.5ha and creates a new woodland network of 0.59ha). Individual (ie separate) networks are indicated by a different colour.
GIS Tool - number of networks.
GIS Tool - size of network.
You can also amend your shape by going back to step 3 on ‘View Networks’ to change the land use, stretch or refine the shape, overdraw the shape (in whole or in part) with a new shape, or add a new land use option.
You can also print the analysis by clicking on the ‘Print’ button, and follow the commands on screen.
NB You can zoom in and out and print at any stage.
GIS Tool - amending view networks.
GIS Tool - printing.
Aerial photography backdrop
The OS base map can be switched with aerial photography backdrop by selecting the ‘Aerial’ button on the top right of the map – allowing a comparison with ‘real’ landscapes and some element of ground truthing.
NB the ‘Aerial’ button is greyed out when the scale is too small.
GIS Tool - aerial button 1.
GIS Tool - aerial button 2.
Scotland’s Greenspace map
These landcover data are available under ‘view other map layers’. A description of the data can be found under the ‘legend’ tab.
Feedback on the interactive habitat network user tool is very welcome! If you have any queries or comments, or want more information, please contact: