Why is the UKCEH Countryside Survey important?

The UKCEH Countryside Survey provides reliable evidence about the extent and condition or ‘health’ of the UK’s countryside today. Using statistical analyses, we can estimate changes in the countryside by comparing Countryside Surveys from 2007, 1998, 1990, 1984 and 1978. We can also say how confident we are about our estimates of change (and the relative rate of change) in the countryside.  This evidence is used to help form policies that influence management of the countryside, both now and in the future.
Bracken Ben Nevis

What does the Survey do?

The Field Survey involves an in-depth study of a sample of 1km squares in the countryside. 

Recent research outcomes from the UKCEH Countryside Survey

How have the findings been used?

The results from the UKCEH Countryside Survey have been used to:

  • improve scientific understanding of the countryside’s landscape, vegetation, freshwater and soils
  • monitor changes in the area and distribution of Broad Habitats* and some habitat types of special interest (e.g. hedgerows, arable field margins and upland heath)
  • determine how the countryside’s natural resources respond to changes in land use, climate change and government policy
  • underpin the UK Government’s reporting of biodiversity
  • assess progress against target indicators in Biodiversity Strategies for the UK and the devolved countries.

*For more information on habitat types visit:

"Countryside Survey is a vital data source, particular for its use in measuring change in the quality of natural capital assets (habitats) outside of Protected Sites."  Jane Lusardi, Natural England