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Approaches to Modelling Wilderness Quality in Iceland

Together with partners in iceland, Wildland Research Limited has delivered a comprehensive paper on novel approaches to wilderness quality mapping in Iceland. 

The most detailed wilderness mapping project in iceland to date provides an important step towards the formal definition of Wilderness Area boundaries in accordance with IUCN category b and the Wild Europe Working Definition. 



Carver, S., Konráðsdóttir, S., Guðmundsson, S., Carver, B. and Kenyon, O., 2023. New Approaches to Modelling Wilderness Quality in Iceland. Land, 12(2), p.446.


North Pennines AONB: Gill Mapping

The team have been working with North Pennines AONB to map future opportunities to expand woodland coverage inside the AONB. 
Using GIS modelling techniques, proprietary viewshed analysis tools and on the ground expertise, Wildland Research Limited has produced a high resolution policy support mapping project to assist local stakeholders in getting the best environmental impact out of their land. 


Mapping access to greenspace in England

WRLtd has created a report for Wildlife and Countryside Link using a novel method to analyse public access to greenspace within 15 minutes walk of their homes. 

Applying multicriteria GIS analysis to existing datasets, WRLtd has created a valuable policy guidance document for government to meet its targets and improve the quality of life for people in England. 

The full report and press release from Wildlife and Country Link can be found here:


White Tailed Eagle Report

The WRLtd team has been leading on the spatial analysis surrounding White Tailed Eagle reintroduction looking specifically at potential nest site locations, habitat and foraging suitability, and risk from human-wildlife conflict. A pre-feasibility report led by WRLtd and colleagues is due to be made public shortly.

The team is currently working on the full feasibility report with the lifescapes project.


Glacier National Park Wilderness Character Mapping

WRLtd have been working with mapping specialists from Glacier National Park in the USA to assist in modelling visual impact from human features (roads, trails, masts, buildings etc.) in and around the park’s wilderness areas. We have been using our Viewshed Explorer software to map visual impact and create key GIS layers that are essential for the Wilderness Character Mapping models being applied by the park to inform management of wilderness areas and help write the park’s plan.


State of wild land, Scotland

The State of Wild Land in the Scottish Highlands. Here we apply GIS and field-based approaches to mapping impacts to wild land in selected areas of the Scottish Highlands over the last 250 years using historical data to model rates of attrition of wildness and make projections about likely future losses.

Read it here: 

Client: Scottish Wild Land Group

Quality of wilderness, Iceland

Client: Skrauti NGO, Iceland

Here we develop customised models of wilderness quality specifically suited to the landscape of the Central Highlands of Iceland taking geomorphology and cultural history into account. These models interpret Icelandic concepts of óbyggð (uninhabited areas) and víðerni (wilderness) to create nuanced maps of wilderness quality that can be used to inform developing policy on wilderness protection and identify boundaries for designated wilderness areas.

Read the full report here:

Access route analysis, Vonarskarð

Client: Náttúruverndarsamtök Íslands, Samtök um náttúruvernd á Norðurlandi, Skrauti and Ungir umhverfissinnar, Iceland

Review of impacts on wilderness. Here we use GIS-based wilderness mapping approaches in a “before and after” mapping exercise to model the impact of a proposed all terrain access route on a wilderness area in a national park. The mapping can demonstrate the percentage loss of wilderness area if the proposed route were permitted.

Watch an interview with Steve:

Mapping core wild land areas in national parks and AONBs

Client: John Muir Trust, UK

Mapping core wild land areas in national parks and AONBs. Existing models of wilderness quality (developed for JMT in 2016) are used to map the wildest areas within the existing network of national parks and AONBs across England and Wales. Maps showing the top 5, 10 and 15% wildest areas are provided. Client: John Muir Trust, UK.

Analysis of pre-clearance settlement patterns in Scotland

Client: John Muir Trust, UK

In this work we provide a preliminary spatial analysis of pre-clearance settlement patterns across Scotland and compare these to the 2014 Wild Land Areas as defined by the Scottish Government and mapped by Scottish Natural Heritage. The analysis examines the extent to which each of the 42 'Wild Land Areas' were inhabited in the period preceding the Highland Clearances and thus could be described as land that was 'emptied' than 'empty'.

Mapping services for seabed cable routing

Work here provides mapping services for bathymetry, seabed hazards and infrastructure involving handling of multiple datasets from a variety of sources and contractors, drawing of plans, cable sections and profiles to support engineering works.

Client: Innosea, France

Strathy Wood S36 Wind Farm Inquiry Report

Client: Wildland Ltd, UK.

Here we assess the potential scheme specific and cumulative impacts of the proposed Strathy Wood wind farm in terms of wild land qualities as defined by Scottish Natural Heritage and highlighted in Scottish Planning Policy (SPP2) and the National Planning Framework (NPF3). The report provided examines the wind farm proposal in the context of its potential and likely impacts on adjacent wild land areas and the FCWHS consultation area, taking existing wind farms into account.

Hvalá Power Plant Proposal: Review of impacts on wilderness

Here we model how the construction of the proposed hydro power plant would impact on existing wilderness quality in the Westfjords area through road and power line construction, damming and raising of lake levels and reduced river flows (and corresponding impacts on waterfalls). Analyses developed as part of this work was able to show that a development of the scale proposed would have a significant adverse impact on the qualities of this area of wilderness, with the likely outcome that if the development goes ahead the area of wild land in the vicinity would be reduced by between 26,300-28,400ha or 45-48.5%.

Read the full report: 

Client: ÓFEIG náttúruvernd, Iceland

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