Barrier database (AMBER-GB) for: A comprehensive assessment of stream fragmentation in Great Britain

Published: 17 March 2020| Version 4 | DOI: 10.17632/d79vb52nwd.4
Joshua Jones,
Luca Borger,
Jeroen Tummers,
Peter Jones,
Martyn Lucas,
James Kerr,
Paul Kemp,
Simone Bizzi,
Sofia Consuegra,
Lucio Marcello,
Andrew Vowles,
Barbara Belletti,
Eric Verspoor,
Wouter van de Bund,
Peter Gough,
Carlos Garcia de Leaniz


Artificial barriers are one of the main threats to river ecosystems, resulting in habitat fragmentation and loss of connectivity. Yet, the abundance and distribution of most artificial barriers, excluding high head dams, is poorly documented. We provide a global assessment of the distribution and typology of artificial barriers in Great Britain, and estimate for the first time the extent of river fragmentation. To this end, barrier data were compiled from existing databases and were ground truthed by field surveys in England, Scotland and Wales to derive a correction factor for barrier density across Great Britain. Field surveys indicate that existing barrier databases underestimate barrier density by 68%, particularly in the case of low-head structures (<1 m) which are often missing from current records. Field-corrected barrier density estimates ranged from 0.48 barriers/km in Scotland to 0.63 barriers/km in Wales, and 0.75 barriers/km in England. Corresponding estimates of stream fragmentation, measured as mean barrier-free length, were 12.30 km in Scotland, 6.68 km in Wales and 5.29 km in England, reflecting different anthropogenic pressures. Our study indicates that 97% of the river network in Great Britain is fragmented and none of the rivers are free of artificial barriers. Update. Version 3. Data added from OSM Dams and GOOD2 following the same method. GOOD2: 65 dams OSM: 47 dams, 1 weir New total 23731 barriers.



Environment Agency, European Commission Joint Research Centre Ispra Sector, University of the Highlands and Islands, McGill University, Swansea University, King's College London, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Durham University


Spatial Analysis, Barrier, River, Dam, Stream, Inventory, Infrastructure