Monitoring fragile upland landscapes: The application of airborne lidar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper investigates the potential of airborne lidar for recording and monitoring erosion levels in environmentally fragile upland landscapes, using an area of the Brecon Beacons National Park as a case study. Upland areas contain a rich variety of natural and cultural resources that are increasingly endangered through factors such as insensitive land-use practices, improvements in recreational access and climate change. Airborne lidar provides a highly detailed record of microtopography, in this example at a resolution of 0.5 m with a vertical accuracy of c.0.15 m and the ability to differentiate elevation changes to within 1-2 cm. The technique therefore allows the rapid and cost-effective recording of the nature and extent of erosion at a landscape scale, with the results of this analysis recording over 46 kilometres of path erosion within a 3.8 km(2) area. The technique also provides the ability to highlight particular areas of risk, such as extensive braided erosion around path intersections and damage to protected SSSI habitats, providing a snapshot record of erosion at a particular point in time and an invaluable source of information for conservationists and policy-makers. (C) 2009 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010


  • Sustainable land-use, Erosion, Conservation management, Remote sensing, GIS