New national tree canopy map shows higher than expected tree cover

Aerial imaging aeroplane - image:Bluesky
Aerial imaging aeroplane - image:Bluesky

An aerial mapping company has completed what it says is the first ever detailed digital map of England and Wales' 20,000 sq km of tree canopy cover.

The National Tree Map from Bluesky uses up-to-date high-resolution aerial photography and infrared data combined with innovative algorithms and image processing techniques, and includes three map layers detailing more than 280 million trees.

Technical director James Eddy said: "Previous estimates of tree cover were around 10 per cent for England and 13 per cent for the UK as a whole. Using our National Tree Map we have estimated this figure to be marginally higher at around 13.5 per cent for England and Wales."

The map is already used by several local authorities, businesses and academic institutions, with interest also being shown from government agencies and utility companies.

Applications 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. 

Eddy added: "By providing crown polygons and centre points together with height attributes we are able to provide real intelligence for asset management, maintenance and risk assessment applications."

Bluesky is currently working to extend coverage to Scotland, and is also developing other GIS applications including a nationwide map of solar potential, citywide heat loss maps, 3D maps of trees and their proximity to buildings, and historical imagery.

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