Aerial Photography to Create Forest & Woodland Maps 

The Forestry Commission has revealed how it is using the latest aerial photography to manage and regulate public and private forests in the UK.


Supplied free at the point of use by Bluesky and Getmapping under the Aerial Photography for Great Britain (APGB) contract with the Geospatial Commission, the high resolution imagery is widely used across the organisation.

Hosted in the cloud and delivered via web services the regularly updated photography is used to complement Ordnance Survey mapping, provide contextual detail for mapping and analysis tasks and in the creation of 3D visualisations to communicate woodland management projects.

As network and GI technologies have improved and more data has become available the Forestry Commission has embraced the cloud. This allows it to deliver the APGB imagery, alongside other types of geospatial data, to users in all parts of the business.

The imagery can be viewed by all staff within the organisation via a simple to use web browser; Forester Web. Sitting alongside Ordnance Survey mapping, the photography is used for a wide range of purposes, providing real world context and detail for grant applications and felling permissions, for example.

Tree Health staff use the imagery both at the desktop and in the field on portable ‘toughbooks’ for mapping outbreaks of diseases and issuing Statutory Plant Health Notices while Landscape Architects create 3D visualisations to assess and promote more complex woodland management proposals. The aerial photography and data management tools provided in Forester Web are also used to verify and update spatial data relating to the management of the national forest estate.

The APGB data is also used to update of the National Forest Inventory which provides up-to-date information about the size, distribution, composition and condition of the forests and woodland in Great Britain. This information is essential for developing and monitoring policies and guidance to support sustainable forest management. As the world continues to focus on major environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, environmental degradation and resource depletion the NFI helps to monitor and regulate valuable woodland and forest resources.

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodlands. The Forestry Commission works alongside two agencies in England; Forestry England which manages the public forest estate and Forest Research the principal organisation for forestry and tree related research across Great Britain. In Scotland, Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Forestry – also users of the APGB data – mirror the functions of the Forestry Commission and Forestry England.

Website Bluesky

Website Getmapping

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