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Forester by day, DigiOp by night – Steph sees the woods for the tree

Maddie Inglis,

31st October 2018

Steph Sutherland, one of our fantastic Digital Operations team members, just featured on Countryfile for her innovative work in forestry.

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When you drop us a message on Twitter or Facebook of an evening, Steph's one of the team who’ll pick it up (she’s usually typing away from up in Falkirk, Scotland). But by day, she runs a company at the forefront of innovation in forestry, using the latest in drone technology to map trees via aerial survey, giving foresters a bird’s eye view like never before.

She’s such a tree-mapping badass that she's been featured in Countryfile’s recent Autumn special – see her in action from just over 26 minutes in.

See also: her faithful good boy Mendes 🐶

How Steph uses drones to map the UK’s forests

Dumfries forest drone image

Forest mapping via drone, shot in Dumfries

Foresters traditionally map largely on foot, crashing through acres of woods to accurately survey. Steph’s company Goshawk Forest Mapping use Unmanned Aerial Devices (UAVs) to quickly map forest sites large and small from the sky. This important work covers everything from tracking particular tree species, identifying areas for new growth, or discovering patterns of disease, or windblow — pointing foresters to affected areas so they can continue their work on the ground.

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We’re so lucky to have Steph’s expertise at Octopus because we very slightly love trees, too. Steph has been consulting on our planting projects all across the UK, from sourcing 1,500 trees for 40 different schools and community spaces last year, to our more recent work with Arsenal Football Club establishing Colney Wood on the club training grounds.

Steph used her tree network to find us the perfect mix of native broadleaf trees to begin Arsenal’s new forest. Check out the new forest being planted with the help of Arsenal players Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, and Aaron Ramsey.

The first hundred trees included Aspen, one of Steph’s favourite varieties for the “singing” rustling sound they make; Rowan, sporting brilliant Arsenal red berries; and Copper beech, a special variety which produce leaves in a shade of purpley-red.

The work Steph does tracking and conserving the UK’s forests has never been more vital.

The UK’s trees already collectively absorb around 10 million tonnes of carbon each year. But experts suggest that to counteract total climate breakdown, we’ll need to more than double the UK’s current forest cover. The government’s Budget 2018 promises £60m for new planting projects across the UK. Now is the time to introduce more trees into our environment, and preserve the forests we still have. And we'll need the latest technology, and the brightest minds, to put these plans into action.

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For more information on Goshawk Forest Mapping, or to buy one of Steph’s amazing photos, head to their website www.goshawkphoto.co.uk.

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