Tree safety surveys used to take weeks of work and plotting only to be repeated from scratch on the next occasion.
Those days may sound like the Dark Ages now as we live in the world of GNSS technology but Brian Crane and Associates, a dedicated arboricultural consultancy practice based in Hertford, can remember it well.
The company, which is soon celebrating its 25th anniversary, specialises in matters related to tree resource management within the wider contexts of landscape, development, land use, wildlife conservation and architectural heritage.
These days Brian Crane and Associates uses geospatial technology and solutions provided by MGISS to carry out their tree surveys but some of those projects started out on pen and paper.
MGISS is a leading supplier of field data capture solutions to arborists and have spent a lot of time developing efficient workflows and cost effective hardware solutions for the industry.
Brian Crane has been carrying out the arboricultural safety surveys on 1200 trees in the grounds of for Old Warden Park in Biggleswade in Bedfordshire for the past 15 years.
Old Warden Park is now managed by the Local Authority, but was previously owned by the Shuttleworth family since the 1870s. An agricultural college has been on the site since 1946 and the estate houses a world famous collection of vintage aircraft and vehicles. The estate has a Grade II Listed Building, extensive parkland and a Swiss Garden, listed as a Grade II Registered Garden by Historic England.
Brian began the surveys on paper and over the years, as technology progressed, converted the work to digital files. What was once a job taking several weeks can now be completed in just five days.He said: ‘This is one of those cases where when we started working with Old Warden Park, the technology in its infancy and so we had started the work the old fashioned way on pen and paper. Over the years we have converted to digital files. I remember when the first bit of kit that came out – it was about the size of a rucksack. Within a month of seeing it at one of the exhibitions I was including it in my work. The technology has progressed very quickly and is certainly helping arborists to achieve a lot more in a shorter space of time saving both time and money for the client.”
Once Brian Crane and Associates began using digital technology the records didn’t need to begin from scratch and they could be updated from the last visit.
Brian said: ‘We now use a Mobile Mapper with Digiterra from MGISS. Once we had plotted all of the trees and had a full tree survey the job becomes much easier for both us and the client. We are able to complete more work in a shorter time frame because everything is recorded quicker and if works are needed on the trees that can start sooner. It saves the client thousands of pounds. The technology is also much more beneficial to the client who has more control over the report and can update their records electronically when any recommended works on the trees have been completed – enabling them to keep the survey totally up to date. We are so impressed with the equipment that we are implementing the geospatial technology of the Mobile Mapper into pre-development surveys.’
As part of any planning application the services of a professional arborist are required. Brian Crane and Associates offers pre-development tree surveys and assessment to conform to the provisions of BS5837 ‘Trees in Relation to Demolition, Design and Construction’ (2012).
The Mobile Mapper when used alongside Digiterra Explorer Version 7 is easy to set up and quite versatile, so it can be used for different purposes. Surveys may, in appropriate cases, be carried out using GPS/DGPS location to metre accuracy on to OS or other map-form at ’tiles’, thereby often removing the need for initial measured surveys.
The Mobile Mapper 120 with Digiterra Explorer can also read and display CAD files (DXF format) drawings directly in the field.
‘I’ve also used it on a long term research project – here we entered a spreadsheet prepared in the 1990s. I was able to go out with it and plot the positions of trees into this. This allowed me to colour code trees by theme and identify areas where tree loss had been highest. I was able to export the results into Google Earth and use Open Street Map to get a good overview.
Brian added:’We’ve successfully used the Mobile Mapper on quite a number of projects with Digiterra Explorer Version 7 after receiving training from MGISS. The identification feature when you’re dealing with a large number of trees is also advantageous to the client as they only have to add a new layer to be able to record much more information than you could put on paper.
When I first became interested in arboriculture I used to think, one day we’ll be able to manage the tree resource on a mobile computer – GPS was only used by the military and I had no idea that we would be able to plot by satellite as we do now. It has made a huge difference to the way we work and what we can offer the client. MGISS have always responded immediately when I’ve asked them for help. Often, I’ve been on-site when something has gone wrong and they are always helpful. I would certainly recommend them.’
The Mobile Mapper 120 and 300 with Digiterra Explorer version 7 is available from MGISS along with training on the equipment to get the most out of the products. Contact 0151 329 0820 or email [email protected] for more information.