UK: A detailed 3D map of trees from Bluesky is helping Lichfield Council assess planning enquiries by providing an immediate insight into the potential impact on trees of planning applications. It means Lichfield can deal with more enquiries at first point of contact and reduce the need for costly site visits. The National Tree Map data from Bluesky identifies the location, height and canopy cover of more than 280 million trees nationwide, providing a perfect complement to other map layers including aerial photography.
The Staffordshire-based council is using the Bluesky National Tree Map data mainly within Development Services, where it can be accessed from the desktop and used to understand the potential impact of trees on planning applications and development proposals and vice versa.
“We have been using the Bluesky National Tree Map data for some time and it has become a resource on which many officers have come to depend,” commented Gareth Thomas, Lichfield District Council’s Corporate Geographical Information Manager. “Users report a wide range of applications, primarily informing planning application considerations and deciding if the tree officer needs to be consulted, but also when dealing with emergency response, preservation, conservation and environmental management.”
The Bluesky National Tree Map data is held by the Geographical Information Management Team who maintain Lichfield District Council’s corporate Geographical Information System (GIS) as well as wide range of map based data. Using the desktop GIS users across the organisation can access the National Tree Map data to identify the exact location of trees and their proximity to other features or assets in order to make decisions about the tree’s future maintenance and conservation. For trees already afforded some protection, through the issuing of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) for example, the Bluesky data is being used when considering planning applications and even potential prosecutions.
Users within Lichfield District Council are also accessing the Bluesky data for emergency planning and response, where the number and location of trees may have an impact – in the case of extreme weather conditions; falling on essential infrastructure; or forest fires. Over time, the National Tree Map data is also helping the Council monitor and understand potential increases or decreases in tree numbers in an area that is home to the National Memorial Arboretum.