Bell Ingram revolutionises woodland mapping techniques

Bell Ingram is shaking up traditional woodland mapping techniques with its ground-breaking new Cloud-based system which marks a significant change to the way the company works.

Chris Duncan.

In a presentation which was widely shared on Twitter (#AGIScot19), Bell Ingram’s Head of Mapping Chris Duncan gave the sector an exclusive preview of the Forestry Cloud at the recent AGI Conference in Stirling.

The system, which rolled out to Bell Ingram’s Forestry team this month, allows access from virtually anywhere and on any device to view the company’s forest management records at the click of a button.

Additionally, the team is moving forward with a paperless approach to site work with rugged tablets, offline working and shortly will record all H&S, work instructions and site inspections electronically without the need to take paper records.

Chris Duncan explained: “Bell Ingram has used geographic information system (GIS) and digital mapping for Forestry for many years. Several years ago, it became abundantly clear that storing individual datasets for each property was not a sensible approach as we manage many forests from multiple offices across Scotland. We required a more integrated approach and the solution we have developed is a Cloud-based geodatabase built on the open-source software PostgresSQL and QGIS.”

Bell Ingram’s system allows all its foresters to have secure access to the company’s forest database for any office or any other internet-connected location. The company is also able to publish information online, via a secure service, allowing its clients to access their own forest records.

Convenient Android App allows access to forest records in the field.

Chris continued: “In the past, calculating changes over time and visualising the future composition of the forest was a very involved process, with the long-term forest plan production forecast potentially taking hours to complete every time felling or restocking plans changed.

“However, the integrated nature of our system makes calculating statistics and future composition plans, including 3D visualisation, automatic and every change to the database propagates through the layers, giving an up-to-date view of the forest making preparation of plans much quicker and simpler.”

He added: “Our system is not just limited to the office, mobile technology has transformed in recent years, and our forestry system makes use of this. An Android app allows a copy of the forest records to be downloaded to a device and taken out into the forest. Any updates to records made in the forest can then be uploaded back into the database on their return to the office.

“Our approach to modernise woodland mapping using modern techniques and open-source software enables us to be at the cutting edge of mapping, using modern equipment to maximise our efficiency and reducing costs so our clients get the best value for money.”

*Full details of the Forest Cloud system on Chris’ blog. http://bit.ly/2OA5BMw

Published on 29th March 2019