Network meeting 2 – 30th January 2018

At the second Condatis knowledge exchange meeting the focus was on strengthening the network and sharing the latest experiences and knowledge. The day started with short presentations to allow network members to find out what others had been working on and how they have been using Condatis or planning to do so. The talks were also broadcast as a live webinar (recording available below). The afternoon provided a forum to ask questions, and network with other users, as well as structured feedback about proposed developments in a forthcoming new version of Condatis.
List of talks
Summary of discussions
Who was there

Talks from members:

Click play for the full recording

Sarah Scriven (University of York)
Identifying important habitat connections for range shifting species in tropical agricultural landscapes.

Tom Butlin (Mersey Forest)
Moving towards change in the real world.

Sarah Taylor (Natural England)
Using spatial data to inform landscape scale conservation. How are we doing so far?

Tim Graham (Manx Wildlife Trust)
The 20% Question.

Philip Whelpdale (Yorkshire Wildlife Trust)
Condatis: The answer to conservation, the universe and everything?

Sue Young (Wildlife Trusts)
Ecological Network Mapping.

Ben Wood (Warwickshire County Council)
Using Condatis to Predict National Ecological Flows.

Arne Loth (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation)
Modelling habitat suitability and connectivity for the hazel dormouse in south-east Wales: challenges and opportunities.

Amy Cowburn (Natural England)
Using Condatis to model an ecological network across Cheshire to Lancashire.

Summary of discussions:

Jenny and Kath gave a short update on the Condatis project, including  recent successes winning University funding to develop Condatis into a web application and extend the knowledge exchange network to include users in developing countries. The web application is now almost ready for beta testing, and some partners expressed an interest in helping with that process. Further funding from NERC was secured on the basis of these pilot projects. Later this year, Condatis 1.0 will be released as an online application, and will include new functions such as considering connectivity in multiple directions and accounting for varying costs of restoration when prioritising sites. New partnerships in Ghana, Indonesia and Malaysia will be developed by using a case study from each country to test the new model functions and the partners there will provide valuable guidance on making Condatis relevant for an international audience.

The group then provided feedback on the following points in a structured discussion.

The group identified some improvements and additions they would potentially like to see in Condatis 1.0:

  • Outputs exported in GIS format
  • Habitat quality – management, topography
  • Help files & guidance
  • Data preparation tool box
  • Bottlenecks
  • Incorporate topography – to weight / as barrier
  • Matrix – cost surface
  • Recognise cell size of raster
  • Density dependent dispersal
  • Abstract barriers
  • Upload polygons
  • Dropping
  • Adding
  • Progress report
  • Socio-economic cost

The potential user errors for which Condatis should provide error messages were identified as:

  • Messages should make sense / plain English
  • Tell you your resolution
  • “you have lots of cells – will take a long time”
  • Forgot to crop source and target from habitat
  • Bottlenecks bug
  • “Results look funny”
  • Flow leakage warning

The group also identified the following wish list of GIS tools to support Condatis:

  • Changing resolutions
  • Adding source and target
    • Bounding box margins
    • Draw
    • Cells with high density of habitat
    • As polygons
  • Rasterisation
  • R scripts to do GIS jobs
  • Upload polygons
  • Web based

The following would help users to run Condatis alongside other tools:

  • Look up table of what programs can do
  • Help to hone question
  • Benefits and limitations
  • Guidance document/matrix
  • Wikipedia page
  • Mapping network
  • Forum – linked from web tool
  • Scenario factsheets/conversation transcripts
  • More export formats for compatibility
  • Case studies for combining with other models

The following data would be needed to run all the spatial analyses the group would like to do (italics indicates data that is currently unavailable):

  • Consistent repeatable habitat data
  • Where habitat interventions are happening
  • New sites added when restored
  • Self-renewing habitat data
  • Access to historical datasets
  • Quality of habitat
  • Structure of habitat
  • Species dispersal data – provide guidance
  • Species distribution data
  • Summarise dispersal distances from other studies
  • Species interactions
  • Soil data
  • Geology
  • Topography
  • Incorporate unmapped habitat types (scrub)
  • Complete GB NVC
  • OS MasterMap Green Space

The following would make it easier to obtain the data needed:

  • Money
  • Fund public data
  • Clarity about quality
  • Data sharing – high level agreements
  • Renegotiate licences for sharing
  • Government data should be free
  • Studies of species to extrapolate up
  • Harvesting from papers
  • Where data sets are
  • What data is available
  • Open access
  • Data in full resolution
  • Better sharing by recorders

These are some ways Condatis has changed how people think or work:

  • Picks out novel patterns – helps refine and assess against other model outputs
  • Intellectually stimulating – think a different way
  • Learning how it fits with other tools
  • People won’t do it if they don’t see its purpose
  • Ease of use is important
  • Enabled first proper ecological network model
  • Evidence base to reinforce / support decisions
  • Connectivity between what? Makes explicit

These are some ways Condatis has (or may in future) made a difference on the ground:

  • More strategic / less waste
  • Outputs in Northern Forest
  • Inform bid for future restoration project
  • Influence where money spent on habitat creation
  • Inform areas for mitigation
  • Neighbourhood plans in Warwickshire use flow maps

The group identified the following support requirements to increase the impact of Condatis on their work:

  • Good case study showing impact on the ground
  • Endorsement
  • Tool easier to run
  • Training webinar
  • Ability to do lots of runs
  • How does it come together with other tools?
  • Guidance on interpretation and presentation
  • Glossary
  • How to present to wide audience
  • Simple yes / no map for decision maker
  • Translate connectivity difference after change
  • Standardise scale
  • Relative conductance
  • Convert to percentage flow
  • Recommend how to present to lay person
  • How to interpret the number(s)
  • Response to invasive species issue – case study?


Who was there:

Name Organisation
KathAllenUniversity of Liverpool
JamieAlisonUniversity of Liverpool
EmmaBrownNatural England
TomButlinThe Mersey Forest
LydiaColeUniversity of Liverpool
AmyCowburnNatural England
InmaGonzalezUniversity of Liverpool
TimGrahamManx Wildlife Trust
JohnHeapUniversity of Liverpool
CathyHighfieldUniversity of Liverpool
JennyHodgsonUniversity of Liverpool
JimLathamNatural Resources Wales
ArneLothAmphibian and Reptile Conservation
LauraNaylorAlder Hey Childrens NHS Foundation Trust
JonathanRothwellNatural Resources Wales
SarahScrivenUniversity of York
SarahTaylorNatural England
DanWardNatural Resources Wales
PhilipWhelpdaleYorkshire Wildlife Trust
BenWoodWarwickshire County Council
SueYoungWildlife Trusts

We will follow up on the suggestions and comments from the discussions by working with partners individually and using the feedback to guide software development and documentation, where possible. Participants and those who could not attend are invited to continue to provide feedback on the project and how it can be most useful.

It was fantastic to have so many partners there, both long-standing and new. It’s great to hear about so many exciting projects that are making a difference on the ground. Thanks for a really helpful and productive meeting!