About ESC-DSS

ESC-DSS applies the Ecological Site Classification methodology and provides a user friendly way of working out options for tree species and native woodland communities on individual sites.

Site information required

Basic site information is provided simply by entering a grid reference, this provides climatic data and default coarse resolution soil quality information. If additional detailed soil information and plant indicator species are available, a more precise determination of site quality, and a better estimate of species suitability and yield is provided by ESC.

If more information is known about a site (e.g. rooting depth, soil texture and stoniness) a more precise estimate of the soil wetness can be made.

If lithology is known this is combined with soil type to provide a more precise estimate of soil fertility. Humus form can give even more precision, but the best estimate of soil fertility is gained from a knowledge of the plants on the site. ESC-DSS uses two models to assess fertility using 132 indicator plants that commonly occur in woodlands, grasslands and heathlands.

The field survey pack (see Downloads page); is available to provide help with soil and plant identification and with methods for estimating soil texture and stoniness.

Suitability models and yield projections

The site information is linked to ESC suitability models for 20 of the 25 NVC woodland communities (W1-W20) and 60 species of tree using a 'fuzzy membership function' approach. Site yield projections are also provided by the ESC decision support system. The fuzzy membership function describes the degree of suitability of the species or woodland community to each ESC site factor.

ESC 3 incorporates future climate change projections for the UKCIP02 low and high emissions scenarios for 2050 and 2080, to allow users to incorporate future suitability into planting decisions.

The high emissions scenarios is based on the IPCC A1Fi SRES scenario, and should give a better indication of the extreme values of AT and MD that are likely to impact forests and woodlands in the future.

Future climate scenarios

ESC 3 incorporates future climate change projections for the UKCIP02 low and high emissions scenarios for 2050 and 2080, to allow users to incorporate future suitability into planting decisions.

User friendly system

ESC-DSS includes a set of cue cards that leads the user through the site analysis and the species and woodland community suitability assessment. It includes an on-line help system containing background information.