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Mapping scrub vegetation cover from photogrammetric point clouds: A useful tool in reserve management

Vafidis, Jim; Lucksted, Isaac; Gall, Moyrah; Maxfield, Pete; Meakin, Kathy; Steer, Mark

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Jim Vafidis
Senior Lecturer in Conservation Science

Isaac Lucksted

Moyrah Gall

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Pete Maxfield
Senior Lecturer in Environmental Chemistry

Kathy Meakin

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Mark Steer
Associate Professor in Conservation Biology


Scrub vegetation is a valuable habitat and resource for wildlife, but if unmanaged can encroach and dominate adjacent habitats, reducing biodiversity value. A primary task in the management of terrestrial nature reserves in the UK is monitoring and controlling scrub. The methods used to monitor and assess scrub cover are often basic, relying on qualitative assessment. Inaccurate assessments may fail to inform appropriate management of the habitats and lead to loss or degradation of important ecological features. Scrub can be monitored using UAV or satellite-derived imagery, but it can be difficult to distinguish between other vegetation types without using high-cost hyperspectral sensors. An alternative method using high-resolution surface models from photogrammetric point clouds enables the isolation of vegetation types based on height. Scrub can be isolated from woodland, hedgerows, and tall ground vegetation. In this study, we calculate scrub cover using a photogrammetric point cloud modeling approach using UAVs. We illustrate the method with two case studies from the UK. The scrub cover at Daneway Banks, a calcareous grassland site in Gloucestershire, was calculated at 21.8% of the site. The scrub cover at Flat Holm Island, a maritime grassland in the Severn Estuary, was calculated at 7%. This approach enabled the scrub layer to be readily measured and if required, modeled to provide a visual guide of what a projected management objective would look like. This approach provides a new tool in reserve management, enabling habitat management strategies to be informed, and progress toward objectives monitored.


Vafidis, J., Lucksted, I., Gall, M., Maxfield, P., Meakin, K., & Steer, M. (2021). Mapping scrub vegetation cover from photogrammetric point clouds: A useful tool in reserve management. Ecology and Evolution, 11(11), 6789-6797.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 19, 2021
Online Publication Date May 1, 2021
Publication Date 2021-06
Deposit Date May 17, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 7, 2021
Journal Ecology and Evolution
Electronic ISSN 2045-7758
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 11
Pages 6789-6797
Keywords Ecology; Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics; Nature and Landscape Conservation
Public URL
Additional Information Received: 2020-11-03; Accepted: 2021-03-19; Published: 2021-05-01


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