Blueskys National Tree Map helps Woodland Trust Develop Resilient Treescapes

Leicestershire, UK, 10 March 2015 – The Woodland trust, the UKs leading woodland conservation charity, has purchased Blueskys National Tree Map that details more than 280 million trees across England and Wales. Created from Blueskys high resolution aerial photography, colour infrared data and height datasets, the National Tree Map database provides details of the location, height and canopy / crown size for all trees that are three metres and taller.

The Woodland Trust intends to use the National Tree Map to undertake assessments of the scale of current tree cover, including in urban areas, to support their work developing resilient treescapes. This will help identify where further planting would bring the greatest benefit.

The data Government has used to date to calculate statistics about woodland cover only includes areas of woodland above a specific size, commented Dr Nick Atkinson, Senior Conservation Advisor at the Woodland Trust. We already know from our initial assessment of the Bluesky National Tree Map data that this significantly underestimates total tree cover. In fact, something like a third of all cover is outside traditional woods, such as along rivers, field boundaries, roads and railways.

These trees play an important but largely unsung role in providing habitat and linking woodland patches together, continued Atkinson. They also deliver important ecosystem services such as soil conservation, insect pollinator habitat and protection for crops and livestock.

Following careful evaluation, the Woodland Trust purchased the National Tree Map data to supplement existing datasets such as the Governments National Forest Inventory. The Bluesky data will be used alongside existing mapping within the Trusts Geographical Information System (GIS) to evaluate the true extent of tree canopy in England and Wales. One striking revelation made by the Woodland Trust using the Bluesky data is the extent of trees in built up areas often exceeding tree cover in the nearby countryside. These trees provide an important refuge for wildlife and as a resource for managing surface water flooding, soaking up airborne pollution and providing shade for people living in urban heat islands.

As more and more people live in towns and cities, the need to access green space and connect with nature can be met, at least in part, through the provision of urban trees, concluded Atkinson. The Bluesky National Tree Map gives us the opportunity to assess the scale of current tree cover within the built environment and identify where further additions would bring the greatest benefit.

The Bluesky National Tree Map has been created using innovative algorithms and image processing techniques in combination with the most up to date and detailed aerial photography and height data in the UK. A team of experienced professionals then completed an exhaustive QA process to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data. In addition to the three vector map layers; Crown Polygons, Idealised Crowns and Height Points, the Bluesky National Tree Map also includes an attribute table including unique identification for each crown feature, height attributes and area calculations. The data is available in a range of GIS ready formats with flexible annual licencing.

Applications of the Bluesky National Tree Map include subsidence risk assessment by insurance companies, propagation modelling for telecommunication infrastructure planning, network resilience assessment for utility companies and carbon reduction planning for environmental mitigation projects. Existing users of the data are already reporting significant improvements in day to day planning and operational efficiency achieved through the use of Bluesky National Tree Map data.

Bluesky National Tree Map is currently available for England and Wales with work already underway to create coverage for Scotland.

Blueskyis a UK-based specialist in aerial survey including aerial photography, LiDAR and thermal data using the very latest survey technology, including an UltraCam Eagle and an Orion M300 LiDAR system. An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigious organisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies.

Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography and maintains national off the shelf coverage of aerial photography, DTM and DSM through an on-going update programme. By purchasing a World first sensor for the simultaneous capture of LiDAR, Thermal and Aerial Photography data Bluesky is in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and cost effective solutions.

Bluesky is also leading the way in developing innovative solutions for environmental applications including the UKs first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping and citywide heat loss maps and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products.

The Woodland Trust is the UKs leading charity championing native woods and trees. It has over 400,000 supporters. The Trust has three key aims: i) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife ii) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable iii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its woods is free.