Using Aerial Photography to Inform New Planting Planning

Using true colour imagery to plan the replanting of forests.

by | Dec 13, 2019 | Forestry

Dr Chloe Barnes

Head of Remote Sensing


Chloe joined the 2Excel Geo team in 2017, following the completion of her PhD in Remote Sensing. She is a domain expert in tree disease detection using spectral imaging and LiDAR techniques from airborne platforms and is an experienced data analyst.

In an increasingly environmentally aware era, tree planting in the UK is supported by government grant support to assist in the planting of new trees. The most notable of these is the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant which can provide landowners up to £6,800 per hectare for new planting. 

Application for this grant funding requires careful planning for the number of saplings to be planted and the types of protection measures required to ensure their establishment. Protection measures funded by the scheme include deer fencing, sheep netting, and tree shelters but all protection requirements must be identified at the planning stage. 

In October 2019 2Excel geo conducted an aerial survey of three compartments on Boughton Estate in Kettering which were due to be replanted through the assistance of the Tree Health Grant. 

Analysis of the aerial photography (3 cm resolution) and digital surface models allowed the replanting area to be calculated and mapped. This analysis considered the drip line and future growth of the remaining tree stock on the site and the location of rides (Figure 1). 

Figure 1

Tree planting area (displayed in green).

Figure 1

Tree planting area (displayed in green).

The site overviews provided by the imagery also assisted in the informed location of deer fencing and tree shelters and calculation of the exact quantities of these required.

To accurately assess the canopy cover over a large area from the ground is almost impossible. The aerial survey allowed a rapid top-line assessment of the replant areas and so resources needed. It subsequently made the job of actually planning on the ground the route of fences, areas of tree tubes etc much, much faster. If I was a consultant it would be much easier & clearer to show a client the reasons why we are fencing, tubing, planting/not planting these areas and why we need x, y, & z resources.

Jonathan Plowe

Woodlands Operations Manager at Boughton Estate

The data provided by the aerial imagery facilitated the efficient planning of replanting in the designated compartments at the Boughton Estate. Data-driven decision making also provided a more accurate grant application and minimising waste through over-ordering. and tree shelters and calculation of the exact quantities of these required.

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