Further evidence has emerged of how geospatial data is being used to help tackle environmental issues after the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed it is set to launch a nationwide project using satellite data to map disease outbreaks among ash and oak trees.
The health of ash and oak trees is important in forest and woodland areas, with ash dieback being lethal to many, and dealing with the threat creates a significant cost to Defra and county councils.
In May last year, Defra launched the Tree Health Resilience Strategy - a landmark publication that sets out plans to protect England’s trees from pests and diseases to meet the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan pledge. The strategy sets out a new proactive approach to tree health with landowners, charities, the public, scientists and government working together to take actions to build resilience against pests and diseases to protect the nation’s trees.
As part of this strategy, Defra is working with geospatial data analytics company Rezatec to identify and map the species, then to add a disturbance layer to spot changes in their health status.The project follows a successful pilot in Devon in 2017.
Defra statistician for plant health Sam Grant said: “Using satellite data analytics allows us to optimise our resources, as well as enable us to be more proactive in combatting tree disease and increasing our public spend efficiency. Defra is pleased to be taking a lead in using the latest technologies to address the issues we face.”
Rezatec said that by using satellite technology to accurately identify and locate affected trees, government can optimise the deployment of ground teams, sending them directly to the source of the problem. They can also remove affected trees that may become a hazard to the general public.
Rezatec chief commercial officer Tim Vallings added: “For the first time, species maps can be used as a reference for targeting areas of most need and we are pleased to be expanding the project nationwide, providing Defra and the wider community at county council level with this ability."