Catalogue of Coastal Information Sources

This is the first attempt by JNCC to produce a complete catalogue of coastal habitat datasets in the UK. The objective was to obtain details of as many datasets as possible, regardless of their format or geographical scale. Coverage is restricted to the five main coastal habitats: sand dunes, vegetated shingle, maritime cliffs and slopes, saltmarsh and machair, with the greatest effort directed to saltmarsh and sand dunes. Datasets covering predominantly unvegetated coastal habitats such as intertidal mudflats/sandflats, or rocky shores dominated by seaweeds are not included.  The catalogue therefore includes resources ranging from paper maps/reports to fully digitised surveys.
The catalogue has been compiled over a nine month period from April to December 2005 by JNCC’s Habitats Advisers, principally Dr Susan Watt. The main starting point for this catalogue was an inventory of Coastal Datasets produced by English Nature (now known as Natural England). This was supplemented by information supplied by other Country Agencies and also the Environment Agency. We also obtained details from the list of coastal datasets produced for the UK Coastal and Marine Resource Atlas (CMRA). Some of the CMRA datasets are available via Defra’s “Magic” website . Another objective of the coastal pilot was to bring together as many of the electronic data sources as possible, primarily from the Country Agencies. On receipt of these datasets, an appropriate entry in the catalogue was made (if not already present), and details in the catalogue were updated to reflect the actual content of the data rather than the assumed content.
The resultant Coastal Datasets Catalogue contains over 350 entries and is available to download as an Excel spreadsheet.
Please note that you will need to contact the data provider if you would like to obtain access to these datasets or require further details.
The catalogue records the following details for each data resource.
Catalogue Fields (High Level)
The 5 main coastal habitats sand dunes, shingle, cliffs, saltmarsh and machair.  Where possible, information on the specific habitats included in the survey or dataset was collected.
This refers to the habitat classification scheme used, where known. Choices are NVC, Annex I, BAP priority, IHS or other.
The site or area the survey/dataset covers 
Information collected
Does the data refer to extent, condition or is it a repeated survey (does it show change)
Start and end dates for the survey, if known. 
The type of data, where known, e.g. plant community data, spatial data, paper map.
Location details of dataset
Does JNCC hold a copy, other location of the resource.


A detailed listing of the fields, with explanatory notes, is found in the spreadsheet itself (in the sheet called “explanation of column headings”). 
The Catalogue is not complete in terms of the amount of detail that is available for a given dataset, for example we do not know if  70% of the saltmarsh surveys listed have digital spatial data or not.
The Catalogue can be searched using filters in each column, so for example we could search for NVC sand dune surveys in England after 1980. Some summary information is included in the spreadsheets. This can be found in the sheets
  • Summary tables for sand dunes
  • Summary tables for salt marsh
We have also attempted to estimate the spatial extent of each of the catalogue entries in terms of 10 km squares. From this we can produce various maps of Great Britain, showing the distribution of catalogue entries in a certain category, e.g. all sand dune surveys since 2000.
The spreadsheet includes an easy to use facility enablling users to generate 10km square distribution maps based on their own chosen parameters. Click on the sheet called “maps” and follow the instructions. The data used for generating these maps is shown directly below the map and can easily be imported into a GIS if required.
We have collected a series of illustrative maps into a power point presentation presented in a format that facilitates comparison between maps. Some interpretitive commentry is shown besides each of the maps. This document is bundled in with the excel data catalogue which can be downloaded from this site.
The Catalogue therefore will have diverse uses, and it attempts to fill a fundamental gap in coastal data management that becomes more significant with increased need for efficient access to information, for example reporting on Favourable Conservation Status

Feedback and updating process.

As has been previously mentioned, we are aware that this catalogue is not complete. If you are aware of a scheme that has not been included, or are able to fill in some of the missing information for an entry on the spreadsheet, please contact the Surveillance team at  JNCC.
Although we will be able to respond to feedback from users of the catalogue, JNCC is unlikely to be able to keep track of all future information sources for coastal habitats. We do not currently have any plans to, for example, update this catalogue on an annual basis.
It is more likely that JNCC will focus on tracking a subset of the schemes and information sources that contribute to our knowledge of coastal habitats and how they are changing.  We might therefore concentrate on schemes that cover a large geographical area and/or schemes that are set up to detect change. This is likely to be much wider than coastal habitats and cover all types of terrestrial habitats and species surveillance schemes. This is part of the implementation of a UK Strategy for Surveillance, Research and Reporting.