Survey of the terrestrial habitats and vegetation of Shetland, 1974 – a framework for long-term ecological monitoring
Abstract. A survey of the natural environment was undertaken in Shetland in 1974, after concern was expressed that large-scale development from the new oil industry could threaten the natural features of the islands. A framework was constructed by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology on which to select samples for the survey. The vegetation and habitat data that were collected, along with the sampling framework, have recently been made public via the following doi:10.5285/06fc0b8c-cc4a-4ea8-b4be-f8bd7ee25342 (Terrestrial habitat, vegetation and soil data from Shetland, 1974) and doi:10.5285/f1b3179e-b446-473d-a5fb-4166668da146 (Land Classification of Shetland 1974). In addition to providing valuable information about the state of the natural environment of Shetland, the repeatable and statistically robust methods developed in the survey were used to underpin the Countryside Survey, Great Britain's national long-term integrated environmental monitoring programme. The demonstration of the effectiveness of the methodology indicates that a repeat of the Shetland survey would yield statistics about ecological changes in the islands, such as those arising from the impacts of the oil industry, a range of socio-economic impacts, and perhaps climate change. Currently no such figures are available, although there is much information on the sociological impacts, as well as changes in agriculture.