Bluesky’s National Tree Map Helps Council Map Trees

Leicestershire, UK, 15 April 2014 – A detailed digital map of tree canopy cover is helping Central Bedfordshire Council gain an understanding of how many trees are on land under control of the Council’s Housing Department. A study, undertaken by specialist consultancy company Landscape Planning Ltd, compared the Bluesky National Tree Map data with layers from the Council’s Geographical Information System (GIS). Specialist scripts were developed in order to identify Council Owned Dwellings and Land Holdings requiring a visit for tree surveys as well as the number of trees at each location. Central Bedfordshire Council commissioned the project to inform a Competitive Tender.

“The first challenge we had to overcome was converting the Council’s Owned Dwellings data set from a series of points to polygons representing property boundaries,” commented Oisin Kelly, Principal Consultant at Landscape Planning Ltd. “A GIS script allowed us to process this data in just two days identifying just over 5,000 properties. In addition we looked at nearly 3,000 further parcels of land as part of the scoping exercise.”

“By using Bluesky’s National Tree Map data we were able to overcome many potential issues associated with the use of just aerial photographs,” continued Kelly. “Because the NTM has been created to a set of quantitative criteria it means the scoping exercise we undertook is repeatable. This gives us justification for its use as well as accountability and traceability for the full project methodology.”

The Landscape Planning team identified through the use of GIS analysis 5,177 Central Bedfordshire Council Owned Dwellings. In addition the scoping project considered 352 Land Holdings containing Owned Dwellings and a further 2,446 Land Holdings not containing Owned Dwellings. By comparing the Council data with Bluesky’s National Tree Map Landscape Planning were able to identify 2,985 dwellings containing trees. By excluding some trees based on size this figure was reduced to 2,058 dwellings containing 2,101 trees of 6 metres or taller.

“The Scoping Survey undertaken by Landscape Planning has informed us of the number of trees we have, of what size, and where,” added Steve Glazebrook, Consultant to Central Bedfordshire Council. “Based on these results we have been able to screen out many properties from our upcoming survey of trees in tenants’ gardens, providing significant cost savings.”

The National Tree Map has been created from the most up to date, high resolution aerial photography, colour infrared data and detailed height models. It includes three individual map layers, detailing more than 280 million trees with a canopy cover in the region of 20,000 square kilometres – around 13.5 per cent of land cover! Bluesky’s National Tree Map is already in use in a number of Local Authorities, commercial organisations and academic institutions with interest also being shown from Central Government agencies and utility companies.

Landscape Planning Limited is a multi-disciplinary consultancy providing arboriculture, ecology and landscape services to various sectors including: social landlords, local authorities, developers and airports. Contact Oisin Kelly at Landscape Planning Limited on 01206 752539 or visit

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 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.

Bluesky is 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 UK’s first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping and citywide ‘heat loss’ maps and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products.