1.1. The purpose of this research is to determine whether radar imagery can play a role in producing an automated, continually updated map of burning (both managed muirburn and wildfires) in UK upland environments. In Scotland upland habitats can extend to sea level in the north and west so this isn’t just a topographic distinction.
1.2. A separate Copernicus User Uptake project run by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and NatureScot is looking at Sentinel 2 to create an operational burn mapping system – if this research were successful it could enhance this system by incorporating burn extent mapping which is not influenced by cloud cover.
1.3. The policy context of this work is to help understand the impact of wildfires and muirburn on carbon emissions, biodiversity and natural capital accounting. This will provide evidence to inform policy development towards meeting Defra’s strategic aim of tackling climate change and passing on to the next generation an environment protected and enhanced for the future.
1.4. Using remotely sensed data will allow a picture of burning to be developed with improved spatial and temporal detail. Increased spatial detail will help inform decision making on the restoration of peatlands to support the England Peat Strategy. Additionally, a continually updated map enables monitoring of remote areas, resulting in enhanced environmental protection on regional scales, particularly where burning affects a protected area.