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USING THE LAND APP TO MAP NATURE RECOVERY


WHAT IS THE LAND APP?

Free, browser-based mapping software the Land App (www.TheLandApp.com) is widely used by farmers across the UK; we are working with this firm to include Oxfordshire Treescape Project mapping within the software, supporting nature recovery efforts of parishes, land managers, district councils and farmer clusters. With our mapping in the Land App, users have the power to edit their maps, for example to plan where nature recovery actions are needed, add more detailed information or update the maps. We are collaborating with the Land App to run two free online workshops for those who want some support in getting started with it on 21st November and 2nd December; please email marcus@growgreencarbon.org for full details. CONTEXT

Planning for nature recovery (including treescapes), really needs a visual approach to understand how a local landscape and all its key features relate together. Traditional drawing methods are very laborious to share and update, and although powerful Geographical Information System and mapping software now exists (including excellent free tools like QGIS), these can still be intimidating to start learning and using. The Land App shows great promise as a common ‘platform’, where diverse users can easily view and update baseline data, plan future scenarios using smart templates and data overlays, and collaborate in different ways, coordinating individual efforts to plan and work at landscape level. RELEVANT FEATURES AND BENEFITS

It is operated through any browser (with phone app also due soon), and despite its powerful capabilities it is quite easy and intuitive to learn and use. You can choose from over 85 open-source data layers to combine as backgrounds or overlays, including free or paid base maps or satellite views.



Left image: ‘basemap’ backgrounds include a choice of free and paid maps and satellite imagery.

Right image: you can display any combination from around 80 standard data layers; displayed here are Buglife’s ‘B-Linees’ areas in orange, with other colours indicating Priority Habitats from Natural England’s inventory.


A ‘new’ button lets you import data from various sources, with the option to use handy templates for different end applications, or to simply draw shapes freehand.

‘Plans’ refer to various data layers, which you can turn on or off, and duplicate, update or modify by selecting elements to change their attributes; or split, merge, copy, measure or draw on them in various ways. Selecting a feature enables ‘Draw’ functions, where you can add new areas or lines (following the outline of underlying shapes), or other things like points, text, circles etc. A ‘help’ button is always handy at the bottom of the screen, and you can add photos, which automatically show a marker at the location where they were taken (provided location tracking was enabled on the phone or camera when they were taken).


Left image: You can use templates to determine relevant data attributes to be imported, though you can add or remove attributes afterwards.

Right image: This view shows 3 ‘Plans’ layers, with existing hedgerows in blue and hedge opportunities in orange; the right hand box shows the attributes of the selected 2nd item, with the ‘Draw’ tool listing different options to add. At bottom right and left are tools for Help and adding geo-tagged photos.


Various other useful tools let you measure, export, share, print or make data tables, and the ‘search’ box lets you easily find places or features on the map. Most of the useful functionality comes entirely free, but the app clearly shows what premium functions require payment. The Land App’s website and help system is very clear and informative: for example, typing key words in a search box shows excellent simple visual instructions how to use each feature, and a YouTube channel has many short videos that explain key capabilities really well. They often run free webinars that teach how to use the tool for different applications; many are recorded for later viewing too.

Founding director Tim Hopkin comes from a farming and estate management background; he developed the Land App because he saw a big unmet need for better tools for non-specialists. His organisation seems highly mission driven rather than profit focused, and all staff come across as highly competent and responsive, showing an excellent grasp of the app’s capabilities combined with skilled empathy in helping inexperienced users. They are developing the software in a highly agile way, frequently adding new or improved features in response to feedback, and partnering with many useful organisations and initiatives. WAYS FORWARD

We’ve found that this tool has been gaining a lot of interest from Oxfordshire farm clusters, land managers and consultants and the district and county councils, and its potential for supporting nature recovery is being explored in other counties across the country. The Oxfordshire Treescape Project is helping Oxfordshire parish groups to use the Land App for local Nature Recovery and Treescape planning, in a number of ways:

  • We can freely supply maps with extra useful layers for each parish

  • Writing an introductory guide on how to use the Land App for parish-level planning

  • Compiling/maintaining a FAQs document which gives responses to typical queries and problems faced by parish groups

  • Offering free workshops for new users on 21st November and 2nd December, run in collaboration with the Land App

For more information on the workshops and to stay updated on the above resources please email: marcus@growgreencarbon.org.

We continue to explore the potential for using the Land App for nature recovery at different scales, working with local farmer clusters and discussing options with district councillors. We are also working with the Land App on adding more powerful features, such as tracing vegetation outlines from satellite imagery using AI/machine-earning algorithms. We’re keen to share this tool widely and would love to hear your thoughts and questions; for more information on the Land App and how you could get started in using it, email marcus@growgreencarbon.org.

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