Bluesky aerial mapping technology reveals carbon stored in Britain’s hedgerows

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Leicestershire, UK, 20 May, 2024 – New aerial mapping technology is enabling the carbon storage capacity of Great Britain and Ireland’s hedgerows to be calculated from the skies. The new National Hedgerow Map (NHM) has been created by UK aerial survey company Bluesky International.

Hedgerows play a vital role in improving biodiversity and increasing carbon sequestration, as well as providing shelter for wildlife, hedgerows capture carbon and help to reduce flooding.

Bluesky has been mapping trees across Great Britain and Ireland for more than a decade, having created the National Tree Map (NTM). The company has now developed a technique to using volumetric calculations as part of a dataset that offers location, height, volume, vegetation extent, and the centreline for all vegetation below three metres.

When coupled with data from Bluesky’s National Tree Map, ecologists, conservationists and planners gain a desktop overview of all Britain’s vegetation.

“It’s been great to see increased interest in hedgerows, as well as the new products that are coming to the market to conserve and improve them,” said Ralph Coleman, Chief Commercial Officer at Bluesky. “We launched our National Tree Map more than 12 years ago, so expanding our scope to include hedgerows was a natural step. There has been a considerable decline of hedgerows over the past 80 years and it’s vital we reverse this to maintain biodiversity levels.

“The NHM facilitates desktop analysis of hedgerows and, when coupled with the NTM, a fuller vegetation assessment can be undertaken.  Hedgerow gaps are easy to identify and analysis can be automatically undertaken on any geography reducing the need for costly site visits.”

Potential applications for hedgerow map vary and go beyond hedgerow monitoring and management. Hedgerows are also important for flood risk mitigation, planning of wildlife corridors and habitat monitoring, biodiversity net gain planning for developers, carbon storage and above ground biomass calculations, hedgerow creation and restoration projects, and noise mitigation.

The hedgerow map has been developed using Bluesky’s high resolution national aerial photography, accurate terrain and surface data, and the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).

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