Aerial survey specialist Bluesky has launched what is thought to be the UK’s first ever National Tree Map. Created using the most up to date aerial photography and colour infrared datasets combined with detailed height models the Bluesky National Tree Map provides a detailed assessment of tree heights and canopy cover.
Bluesky tree maps are already in use within a number of local authorities and utility companies and interest in the new product has now been received from insurance companies and forestry organisations. The digital map layer, covering the whole of England and Wales, will be available in its entirety early next year and plans are already in place for cover of Scotland.
“Trees contribute an enormous amount; they provide valuable habitats for wildlife, improve the air we breathe and help to conserve energy in nearby buildings. However they also pose a risk to properties and utility networks with root damage causing subsidence and pipeline fractures, and branches and falling trees affecting overhead cables,” commented Rachel Tidmarsh, Managing Director of Bluesky International. “It is therefore essential that those charged with managing trees and other essential resources have the tools they require. By creating a single, off the shelf product, for the whole of the country we are, for the first time, giving them the information they need to make informed decisions in a timely and cost effective manner.”
“By using innovative algorithms and image processing techniques we have been able to partially automate the production of the National Tree Map making its creation a reality,” continued Tidmarsh. “A team of experienced professionals then complete an extensive QA process to ensure the quality and accuracy of the four themed layers.”
The production of the Bluesky National Tree Map follows hot on the heels of other tree mapping projects around the world. Earlier this year NASA, with the help of US Government conservationists, accurately documented for the first time the tree population of America using space-based radar, satellites, computer programs and lots of groundwork. Bluesky itself has already completed a number of large scale tree mapping projects for local authorities across the UK including Cambridge and Carlisle City Councils as well as Red Rose Forest and The Ecology Consultancy.
In the UK a recently published government white paper on the natural environment ‘The Natural Choice’ has highlighted some measurements of the economic benefits of urban green spaces. These include an estimated benefit of £300 per person, per year, attributed to living within a view of green space. While urban green spaces nationally are estimated to be worth £2.3 billion to the economy, per year. Maintaining the UK’s green spaces is predicted to deliver £30 billion in health and welfare benefits alone however failing to maintain this valuable resource would cost an estimated £20 billion each year.