UK Landscapes

Neil Mabbs ane Jane King ran a data visualisation project with students at Banbury & Bicester college in collaboration with the RSPB. Students were asked to produce a range of thought provoking solutions adopting the ‘system’ of a calendar to visualise the data provided. The project is in response to the RSPB Futurescapes initiative, which aims to raise awareness about our changing landscapes; focusing on how wildlife habitats are disappearing as our wild spaces are shrinking.

The RSPB provided results of research showing that the although the UK countryside may look lush and green, it is not always as it seems. For much of the year many modern factory farms focus on single crop varieties. This creates virtual deserts where ploughing and the use of agricultural chemicals can make it very difficult for wild plants, the insects that feed on them as well as the birds and animals that feed on the insects to survive.

This disruption of food webs has consequences for us – without insect pollinators and natural pest control provided by farmland beetles, birds and mammals, food production becomes much more difficult and expensive.  This type of factory farming, with extensive use of heavy machinery and chemicals, also damages the land making it incapable of absorbing large amounts of water during heavy rainfall; causing ‘run off’ from fields and flash flooding.

To support this project Prof. Dave Goulson’s from the University of Sussex also provided the results of a recent study of the chemicals applied to two crops, Oilseed Rape and Winter Wheat, during a single growing season – 22 different chemicals in total.  See full details on the study on Prof. Goulson’s blog …