Jon branches out to create tree app

Jon Robinson, Highways Asset Enginee

Jon Robinson, Highways Asset Enginee - Credit: Archant

An award-winning app which will revolutionise how trees and woodland can be planned and managed, has been designed by a Hackney Council worker.

Jon Robinson, highways asset engineer, spent two years creating and perfecting the tool which allows users to simply and effectively calculate the proportion of land covered by tree tops using aerial images. The app is the first of its kind in the country.

Mr Robinson scooped the Trees and Technology Award for the app, called the Open Source Canopy Cover Audit (OSCCA), at the London RE:LEAF Tree and Woodland Awards at County Hall.

He said: “The ability to measure the canopy coverage of trees is an important step in the management of trees and woodlands within built-up areas.

“Canopies, rather than the number of trees, gives a more accurate representation of the quality of our green spaces. For example, the larger or older the tree, the more it enhances the local environment.”

Mr Robinson’s app was created in partnership with Hackney’s tree team and the London Tree Officers Association which has been gaining information on the capital’s canopy cover.

Capturing the information will help planners and councils decide where and how to invest in habitats, including the maintenance of older trees and the planting of new ones.

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Before the app, canopy coverage was visually calculated using aerial photography or satellite images, along with light information gathered by aircraft.

Mr Robinson said: “This was very time-consuming and not as accurate, and dependent on third party companies.”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and sustainability, said: “I want to thank Jon on behalf of the council for this truly innovative app which he designed in his own time.

“Not only will it help save the council money but it will make gathering essential information on how to make the borough a more pleasant place for everyone both easier and simpler.”