Skip to navigation Skip to content

Natural resource datasets and databases

Soil mapping

Protecting and improving the health of soil is a major way to increase food security and fibre production: to protect water supplies, to mitigate climate change and make our ecosystems more resilient to environmental change. Recognising the importance of soils to many aspects of Scotland’s economic and environmental health the Scottish Government produced the Scottish Soil Framework in 2009, which identifies threats to the resource and encourages sustainable soil management.

To support delivery of the Scottish Soil Framework, we are drawing on the unique resources of our physical archive of soil samples, collected since 1930 from across Scotland and overseas, and the national mapping of Scotland’s soils. All our maps of soils and peatlands, 900 in total, have been digitised, at scales of 1:500 (peat deposits) to 1:250,000 (Scotland-wide soil data).

Leaflet on Scotland's soil sampling and field mapping
Leaflet on Mapping Scotland's soils
Leaflet on Scotland's digital soil maps
Leaflet on Scotland's soil maps online
Leaflet on Mapping Scottish peatlands

Above: The survey and mapping of the soils and peatlands of Scotland leaflets.

These data are being made available via the Soil Indicators for Scottish Soils website for anyone to obtain information about the soils in their area of Scotland. Queries can be made by identifying locations on maps, or using postcodes or geographic co-ordinates. Outputs include maps, graphical summaries and scaled diagrams of soil characteristics.

Further information on Scotland's soil resource can be found on the Scotland's Soils website developed in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), James Hutton Institute (JHI), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and the Scottish Government. The website provides a range of maps that can be viewed online and links to download the maps and data associated with them. The website also provides background information on the soils found in Scotland, what they do, why they are important, the threats they face and what is being done to protect them.

Further infromation on the following datasets is also available:

Peat mapping

The topographic and peat depth surveys of 22 peat deposits in Scotland and England carried out since 1984 are presented on an interactive map below, and listed on the Scottish Peat Surveys document here. These surveys mainly comprise mainly raised bogs and peat workings, for Scottish Natural Heritage, windfarm developers, land managers and peat companies. The survey data include the surface and bottom contours, peat depth, isopachytes, cross-sections, peat volume, and peat quality). The survey methodology was broadly the same as that of the Moss Survey Group for the Scottish Peat Committee, latterly based at the former Macaulay Institute for Soil Research (MISR). The full list of topographic, depth and reconnaissance surveys of peat mosses in Scotland for the Scottish Peat Committee, and further surveys by MISR is accessed here, and shown in the map below. The deepest peat profile in the Scottish Peat Survey records is 11.0m (Threepwood Moss).

Peat survey sites, Scotland (post 1985)Scottish Peat Committee peat depth surveys

Left: Interactive map of the locations of peat surveys by the former Macaulay Institute for Soil Research and Macaulay Land Use Research institute (post-1985) (now the James Hutton Institute).
Right: Interactive map of the locations of peat surveys by the Scottish Peat Committee and Macaulay Institute for Soil Research (pre-1985) (now the James Hutton Institute).

Landscape visibility and analysis

Intervisibility of the landscape of central Scotland The visibility of terrain is one element of landscape character, and a basis for assessing the potential visual sensitivity of landscapes to land use change. Landscape visibility is identified in the European Landscape Convention as an important planning criteria to consider at a local scale. Datasets have been derived at national (for example, Scotland and Wales) and regional (for example, Highland, Scottish Borders, Aberdeenshire).

Landscape visibility of National Parks in Wales, for spatial planning of windfarmsThe basic method has also been applied at site levels to assess changes in the visibility of landscape features through time (for example, Cairngorms in Scotland, National Parks in Wales), and in urban environments to assess visual accessibility of greenspaces. The approach has been further developed and applied by collaborators (for example, Sweden and France), and in the development of new national datasets (for example, wild land for Scotland, University of Leeds).

Learning & Resources

Printed from /learning/natural-resource-datasets on 21/02/24 08:33:10 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.