2016 CCT-US Expedition Scholar Blog

Preparing for the expedition

This update is provided by Dr M.A. Hamilton of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Kew).

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Discussing vegetation types found in BIOT during the July 2016 project meeting held at Kew. Pictured from left to right are Tim Wilkinson (Kew), Jennifer Williams (Kew), Rachel Jones (ZSL), Martin Hamilton (Kew) and Pete Carr (CCT).

Preparation for the 2016-17 Chagos Atoll Restoration Expedition (CAREX) is well underway with the “Creating a Terrestrial Action Plan for the Chagos ArchipelagoDarwin Plus project team meeting monthly at Kew or the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Logistics, establishing island priorities, sourcing supplies and equipment needs have been the main agenda items. We are now beginning to focus on fieldwork planning and project outputs.

Over the past few months, the Kew team have been preparing for the expedition by compiling available imagery, maps and data to enable vegetation mapping. Resources compiled have been added to a Geographic Information System (GIS) by the Spatial Analysis team at Kew to enable the generation of vegetation maps. Existing vegetation data held in Kew’s UKOTs species and specimens database are being combined with local knowledge from Pete Carr (CCT) and Dr Colin Clubbe (Kew) gained through previous visits to BIOT to assign vegetation classifications to satellite imagery held in the GIS which was kindly supplied by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. These known vegetation points, or training data, will greatly improve the software’s ability to correctly assign vegetation types during an automated classification process. The resulting vegetation classifications will be expert reviewed during a project workshop in September 2016 at Kew. The resulting maps will assist fieldwork planning for all expedition members.

Thanks to generous contributions from The Ric and Suzanne Kayne Foundation, The Schnormeier Family Fund, The Honorable Otho Eyster and Carol Garner Fund, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation and the CCT-US members that are allowing Martin's participation in the expedition.