Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I was amazed to see this in the Daily Mail

A green and pleasant land: Map reveals more than half of Britain is countryside

"Forget the urban sprawl - a new map of Britain has shown that we are dominated by countryside. The land cover map showed half [53%] the land was used for crops or pasture and just 6 per cent for more built up areas.... Mountains, heaths and bogs account for 16 per cent, 'semi-natural grasslands' are found across 13 per cent of the country while urban areas, coniferous woodland and broad-leaf woods each make up 6 per cent."

Posted by mark wadsworth @ 12:51 PM (3819 views)
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33 thoughts on “I was amazed to see this in the Daily Mail

  • This doesn’t surprise me at all. You only need to look out of the Windows as you fly from Manchester southwards, it is largely countryside and wide open Green spaces.

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  • It is interesting but ecologically simplistic; I doubt that the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology’s interpretation would equate to the Mail’s. E.O.Wilson and others demonstrated a long time ago that the biodiversity value of “countryside” depends on its being uninterrupted. The road (and rail) networks do a pretty good job of disconnecting the countryside.

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  • the problem in this country is where there is housing it is squashed into small plots rather than nice quality housing with bigger gardens and small veg plots

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  • general congreve says:

    6% is woods of some sort, not all of it natural woodland, some will be farmed forests for timber. 16 per cent is mountains, heaths and bogs (not very good for building or farming on and generally not that bio-diverse and mostly in the depths of Scotland I expect), and 13 percent is ‘semi-natural’ grasslands.

    So, less than a third is actually the original natural environment and much of that probably doesn’t have great biodiversity. Yep, we’ve f4cked the place up good and proper.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    “the biodiversity value of “countryside” depends on its being uninterrupted”

    True. Apparently it’s physically impossible for birds to fly over roads or railways, and never since Brunel’s day has a single fox or squirrel scampered over a railway line. Once hedgehogs or frogs see tarmac they turn straight back and return to the undergrowth. Worms cannot crawl under them and neither can even the lightest dandelion seed blow over them.

    Bizzare but true.

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  • If we needed more houses, I’d be in favour of building. But we don’t, and if we build too many there will be ANOTHER million empty houses scattered about the place. Ask anybody whether they’d rather have a view over fields or a terrace of half empty boarded up houses. I’m pretty sure every single person you asked, including those in favour of building more, would say the former. And yes the frogs worms etc would too.

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  • ontheotherhand says:

    DCLG survey on the ground says 85% is countryside.

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  • MW should have used the correct headline when posting this article, because it is a gross misrepresentation. The actual area covered by concrete in the UK is probably less than 5%.

    tt – if we don’t build more houses, we’ll need to start shooting people..

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  • Interesting that there are no comments on the Daily Mail’s article yet…. probably too confusing for the readers who for decades have been sold the story that we have concreted over the countryside.

    We need just 1%- 2% of the undeveloped land in the UK to provide all the houses we need for another 100 or so years, less if we force unused properties back into use. There will be more of these ‘perception reassignment’ news articles over the next year or so to get the don’t build on the green belt brigade onside.

    The main battle now is all about density of development, humans are happier with less density, but developers, land owners and George Monbiot are happier with high density development for a variety of reasons; a] because it is more profitable to build; b] the artificial shortage of land maintains the land value; c] it is more efficient in energy usage. I think they are all mad – when they all go and live in the density that they propose for the rest of us, I may listen to them.

    Until them I propose we all spread out a bit and pay rent for the land we use

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  • WO!!!! I just read the actual article title…. More of the same then

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    UT, we have now entered the Twilight Zone 🙁

    I did use the original title (which is as I posted it), but when I click it now it says “New digital map of Britain’s countryside reveals how more than half the country has been concreted over” which is completely at odds with the article (which appears unchanged).

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  • MarkW
    How many deer have you seen crossing a motorway? Or or hedgehogs for that matter? Or wild boar leaping over the fences that border railway tracks? Whenever you comment on the countryside or wildlife I get the strong impression you haven’t got a clue what you are talking about. You only want to see more land released for development and therefore choose to ignore the massive downside.
    N

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  • UT – shooting people sounds good. Can I recommend the Jeremy Kyle show as a source of preferred targets?

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  • ontheotherhand says:

    [email protected] that is unbelievable. The URL when I click through still has the ‘green and pleasant’ in it.

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  • The headline simply doesn’t match the text – has someone hacked the Mail’s site?

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  • tt,

    “If someday it may happen that a victim must be found
    I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list
    Of society’s offenders who may well be underground
    And who never would be missed, they never would be missed.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP2PFF2T608&feature=related

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    “Whenever you comment on the countryside or wildlife I get the strong impression you haven’t got a clue what you are talking about.”

    I’ve seen plenty of it out of train windows or at the side or motorways 🙂

    “You only want to see more land released for development and therefore choose to ignore the massive downside”

    My preferred option is LVT, actually, or building more densely in urban areas, but hey. As OTOH says “We need just 1%- 2% of the undeveloped land in the UK to provide all the houses we need for another 100 or so years” and even less than that if we do what Uncle Tom always recommends.

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  • sibley's b'stard child says:

    It appears the collective indignation of a million DM readers has spoken.

    “Listen son, I know you meant well and are reporting the facts, but it’s more than our job’s worth contradicting our readerships’ collective ignorance. I’ve got Mrs Miggins on Line 1 right now insisting that we’re peddling lies and filthy heresy and is threatening to buy the Express. Now get back onto your Mac and change the headline pronto”.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    To add to the hilarity, they have now blocked reader comments. I wonder how long before they pull the article? Winston Smith will be on the case as we speak, I suppose.

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  • Passingthru says:

    @4

    Sorry, but your comment is not particularly well informed.

    Earthworms cannot crawl under motorways, nor railways, namely because these sorts of structures are built on foundations that cut well below the top soil.

    With regard to amphibians and small mammals such as toads and hedgehogs, they are particularly vulnerable when crossing roads, in that they tend to freeze when they perceive a threat.

    I’m not sure what exact balance of countryside and urbanisation there should be, however disrupting organisms at the base of the food chain can have far reaching consequences.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    I take it back. They have now allowed reader comments and the sarcasm and scorn is delightful.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Woo hoo! They have back tracked yet again: the headline now reads: “Our green and pleasant land: New satellite map reveals just six per cent of our island is built up” which is more accurate than even the first version.

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  • markW
    If we ever get the HPC we are all waiting for, you will see there is no need for “just another 1-2%” irreversible nature loss. (When has enough ever been enough in a growth economy? never.)

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Update, reader’s comments disabled again.

    Nick B, lighten up. The Tories are going to see to it that no square inch of The Hallowed Green Belt will be “concreted over” for the next Parliament or three.

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  • micasasucasa says:

    @Nick B.
    I live in a suburb close to the centre of Manchester. We have wild deer living around the corner from us in a patch of private woodland owned by the council. No one knows how they got there, but it’s quite common to see them in people’s gardens or crossing the main road.

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  • clockslinger says:

    Nick B @ 21, quite right…there has to be continuous growth and, more significantly, that growth is exponential. The idea that this can continue indefinitely truly is absurd and the biggest elephant in the room. Of absolute necessity, it goes unmentioned by all our wise leaders who are best able to make objective, unbiased and far reaching decisions on such matters with our future well being. Apres nous le deluge.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Update, readers’ comments allowed again, top rated is some non-mathematician who says it will all end up being concreted over if we let any more immigrants in. I wonder how people work that out? At current densities, we could just about squeeze a billion people. I doubt whether a sixth of the whole of the world population would want to move here.

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  • little professor says:

    but…but… we’re a small island, they’re not building any more land, we have too many nasty forrun immigrants, we don’t have room…

    Surprising to see the Mail actually educating its core ignorant demographic for a change rather than pandering to their lazy preconceptions and stereotypes

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  • clockslinger says:

    As, thanks to the wisdom expressede on this thread, I now realise that continuity of environment isn’t important for species to thrive, me and the occupants of the six adjoining basement flats in this street are thinking of starting a grouse moor in our back gardens.
    We understand from our betters that there is easy money to be made by amateur landowners with a romantic but misguided attachment to the social order of late 19th centuary Britain in organising such events for the chinless wonders from our world beating merchant banks. The dividing walls of our basement “estates” have the potential to make superb butts. Mrs Slinger has suggested tossing the odd oven ready chicken in the air as we now seriously doubt if any of the “guns” would notice the subtle shift in fauna… their attention being focussed on the stunning natural flora of flats 1A to 7A and the heartbreaking beauty of the sun rising over the densely parked vehicles and communal wheelie bin at the end of the street beyond. If the next street join in we may start a rain forest.

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  • voiceofreason says:

    Penny finally drops for the journo numpties.
    Doh!
    See my previous postings on this topic back in 2007ish.

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  • You can get a top rated comment anywhere in the DM by blaming the EU…….ooh or immigrants.

    BTW I blame the Mail for my wife and mother-in-law’s arsey attitude too. I hate the Daily Mail.

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  • @cockslinger
    Nice one. Also, if you need an allotment after turning your back gardens into the grouse moor, there is probably some land going cheap next to the motorway. The fumes add a special flavour to the carrots, so I’m told.
    N

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  • While I agree that most of England (and, indeed most of the South East) is countryside talking about Britain is fairly meaningless given that Scotland, for example, is about 1/3 of the land area but is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe (see Wales as well). Even in England, the population is concentrated in the Pennine Belt, the Midlands and around London. Given that, I’m not sure what the poiint is in talking about ‘Britain’. Germany has a similar (ish) population density to Britain but it is distributed much more evenly. As a consequence South-East England (population about 20m, if you include London and bits of the East region that are really the South East i.e. herts and essex) is more densely populated than the Netherlands (population circa 17m)

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