Waterford City and County Council use Bluesky National Tree Map Data to support carbon neutral ambitions

Data from Bluesky International’s National Tree Map is being used by Waterford City and County Council to help benchmark current tree cover across the city and to look at suitable tree planting sites as it progresses with its target to become Ireland’s first decarbonised city. Derived from high resolution aerial photography, Bluesky’s National Tree Map data is being used to inform policy and budgets at the Council and is an integral part of the City and County Development Plan for 2020-2028. 

 “Trees are an essential part of our green infrastructure capturing and storing carbon. However, they also provide essential habitats, reduce flood risk, positively impact health, increase property values, cool cities and reduce air pollution,” commented Jon Hawkins, IS Project Leader responsible for GIS Projects at Waterford City and County Council. “So, to achieve our ambitions to be one of the lead cities in Europe in terms of carbon neutrality we must understand our starting point in terms of tree coverage,” he continued, “and that is where the Bluesky National Tree Map comes in.”

 Using the unique Bluesky National Tree Map data, Waterford City and County Council now has a thorough understanding of current tree cover across the entire administrative area (1,857 sqkm). Using the FME (Feature Manipulation Engine) data integration tool from Safe Software, alongside desktop geographical information system (GIS) ArcGIS Pro software from Esri, the data was interrogated to calculate the percentage of tree cover for each of the 38 electoral divisions in the city area (42 sqkm). Initial results showed current cover of between 2 and 21 percent, averaging at 12 percent.

 To increase this to a target canopy cover of 20 percent, suitable and available sites for planting had to be assessed. Using the Bluesky data, alongside land use zonings from the Council’s Development Plan and land type classifications from Ordnance Survey the Council is identifying parcels of land that may be appropriate, such as recreational land, open spaces and road verges. Further analysis will be undertaken to allow for minimum planting areas and growth of existing trees.

 “The Bluesky National Tree Map has enabled and assisted conversations about current and future tree cover,” added Eoin Dullea, Horticulturist at Waterford City and County Council. “It allows us to visualise the urban environment to include the urban forest from the desktop and make data driven decisions that will inform future policies and budgets. It will also allow us to measure and report on progress over the next few years.”

 About Bluesky and the National Tree Map

 Bluesky’s National Tree Map is created using innovative algorithms and image processing techniques in combination with the most up to date and detailed aerial photography. 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 formats for use in GIS, CAD and online mapping tools and is currently available for the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

 Bluesky International is the leading aerial survey and geographic data company in the UK producing and maintaining seamless digital aerial photography and height data on a national scale in both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Bluesky also undertakes bespoke surveys, including LiDAR, for a range of public and private sector clients.

 Bluesky International operates a range of aircraft and sensors including three Ultracam Eagle Mark 3s, two CityMappers which allow the simultaneous collection of vertical and oblique imagery, as well as LiDAR data, and a Galaxy LiDAR which is mounted with a thermal sensor and survey grade camera. These systems put Bluesky International in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and cost-effective geospatial solutions. 

 As well as being an established and respected aerial survey company Bluesky International is also highly innovative and continually strives to develop new products and services by embracing new technology and methods. This has resulted in the development of some unique products such as the National Tree Map (NTM). 

 These datasets underpin long term contracts with local and central governments and many major blue-chip companies from a range of market sectors including financial services, utilities, telecoms, web portals, construction and environment.  Bluesky International has offices in the UK, US, Republic of Ireland and a dedicated production centre in India. 

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