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Journal

GIS Cloud woodland survey



Delighted for the opportunity to design and deliver a woodland survey focused on Dartmoor commons we joined the ‘Healthy Trees for Tomorrow’ project. A joint venture with Dartmoor National Park Authority, Foundation for Common Land, and the Lottery Heritage Fund, realised by volunteers. Dartmoor on our doorstep and in our veins, investigating tree health and natural regeneration is right up our street. We joined forces with friends and all-round great beings Paul and Bea from Corylus Ecology to bring that expert edge to the habitat surveying. We then rallied some twenty plus volunteers in the name of citizen science to help us collect the data.


However, when it came to curating our methodology, we were a little stumped by the lack of digital software available. Bored of endless days of data entry associated with paper surveys we searched high and low to find a solution. We finally discovered ‘GIS Cloud’. It did everything we needed (I know, at this point this journal entry is reading like an aspirational advert for some kind of lifestyle product but stick with us).


Available on smartphones, the app is user-friendly with a clean interface and automatic geo-location that pinpoints data collected. It connects in with the mapping programme we use to analyse data (QGIS). Unfortunately we’re not cool or clever enough to design that sort of thing ourselves, so we almost gave up looking. Working with GIS Cloud Kath was able to develop the data collection form easily and quickly. The tech support team were always on hand when she tried to break it.


App in hand, our invaluable team of doggedly-determined volunteers have traversed boggy divots to woodland edges collecting tree health data. Because data in the app is uploaded in real-time we could react swiftly to areas that demanded further investigation. This means that we can have confidence in our data set long before official data-processing starts. As a result, our baseline data of tree health on Dartmoor has benefitted greatly. The confidence of knowing that everything collected is safe has been invaluable. Nevermore will we see data flutter away on a gust, dissolve in a downpour, or suffer misinterpretation. And gallant efforts to gather data are instead meticulously captured and judiciously stored.


Since developing GIS Cloud for our own use, we’ve been working with the Woodland Trust and Plantlife to use the digital platform to collect woodland survey data for Rapid Woodland Assessments too.


We have curated an open and positive working relationship with GIS Cloud who have supported development of survey forms at every step. If you would like to ask more about our experience of using it as a citizen science survey tool just get in touch with us or with GIS Cloud directly.

 




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