We’ve been helping the National Trust monitor more than 75 hectares of land from the skies in its largest woodland restoration to date.

Named the ‘Rise of Northwood’, the project will see a former farmland near Slindon, West Sussex, return to a naturally wooded landscape. This will improve local biodiversity while the additional tree cover will help reduce the impact of local flooring by slowing surface water run-off and cutting the risk of soil erosion. 

Before work got started on the restoration project, the National Trust wanted to carry out initial aerial imaging of the land. This would offer them a baseline to measure the growth of the new woodland, without requiring lengthy surveying sessions on the ground.

The National Trust used Topcon’s Sirius Pro – a fixed-wing UAS with a built-in navigation system and high-resolution camera. This eliminated the need for ground control points, allowing Northwood to be surveyed without disturbing the plants. The quality of the images also means that the National Trust can zoom in on a particular tree and follow its growth over time.

Two years into the project and the restoration of Northwood is progressing as planned. Planting in additional fields on the site began early 2016, and cattle are due to be introduced into areas designated as wood pasture in the next five years. Northwood is expected to be fully open to the public by 2022. 

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