How technology helps Tweed Forum Conserve & Enhance

Alex Baillie: exploring how GIS can help Tweed ForumIn the first of a series on how technology helps Tweed Forum conserve and enhance the freshwaters of the Tweed catchment, we find out how GIS has influenced Forum’s work.

The GIS, or Geographical Information System, we use at Tweed Forum is a complex software package which lets us work with maps to store, present or analyse information. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality the software can do fantastically complicated things and it takes a fair degree of expertise to get the best out of it. Luckily, Tweed Forum has Alex Baillie on hand to help. Alex is Forum’s resident GIS expert and has been exploring what the software can do, “I think technology can add something really useful to the work of Tweed Forum and I’m enjoying seeing what GIS can do to improve the freshwater habitats of the Tweed catchment.”

“For example”, Alex continues, “a vast amount of data has been collected by the Tweed Invasives project over the last 13 years. Using the GIS software, we can keep all this information in the one place. We can print maps which show where the next year’s control work needs to be concentrated, we can analyse how much progress we’ve made towards eradication and we can highlight which areas might be at risk from invasives and should be monitored. It makes for a more streamlined, efficient project.”

A GIS screenshot of the Tweed Invasives ProjectA GIS screenshot of the Tweed Invasives Project

Being able to digitally store large amounts of information has really come into its own with Tweed Forum’s sub-catchment scale Eddleston Water Project. A multi-year project which is making changes to how land is managed as well as restoring natural habitats, the Eddleston project has over 20 monitoring sites, as well as 21 physical works completed to date, with many more planned. In one example, Alex has used GIS to digitally capture data from a salmon redd survey of newly remeandered sections of the river. Using GIS, surveys in subsequent years will allow for year-on-year comparisons of salmon spawning habitat creation in the Eddleston.

Eddleston - mapped sites overviewThe Eddleston Water Project: project work to date can be clearly seen in this GIS-generated image (click on the map to enlarge)

Alex sums up, “Tweed Forum will keep exploring how best to use GIS to protect and enhance the freshwater habitats and species of the Tweed catchment. It’s an exciting time, seeing how technology might change how we do things”.

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