PEATLANDS are a key part of the Scottish landscape and account for over 20% of the country’s land mass. However, 80% of Scotland’s peatlands are degraded in some way. Instead of capturing carbon from the atmosphere, giving them a vital role in the fight against climate change, a degraded peatland can emit more CO2 than it removes. Encouragingly, regeneration is already underway with the Scottish Government’s climate change plan citing an aim to restore at least 250,000 hectares by 2030.
As well as helping the climate, restoring peatlands to good condition generates carbon credits which the private sector can invest in for offsetting. The Peatland Code Registry shows suitable projects for these investors and project developer details to facilitate sales.
For Angus Davidson Ltd (ADL) rural consultants and specialists in peatland restoration, cloud networking has been key to the management of its field data capture workflow as the company tackles the vast amount of data collection required for its successful remediation work. ADL currently have 21 peatland projects on the UK Land Carbon Registry making it the largest project developers in the UK. With a further 20 projects being developed and an increasing demand for its services, it is on an exciting journey whilst restoring degraded habitats at scale in the process. However, for the Peatland Code Registry to operate effectively, it must have extensive data on which peatlands are being restored, how large the areas are and how effective the restoration process is at any point in time.
Specialising in supplying this data, ADL supports businesses the length and breadth of Scotland with its detailed knowledge of the rural landscape. In particular, unlike carbon brokers, ADL offers peatland regeneration with services including feasibility, funding, tendering, mapping, monitoring and field work. Central to this work is having accurate positional data for each peatland project along with the attendant photographs and attribute information.
Vast rural areas and a cloud-based workflow
It’s almost impossible to envisage the scope of a peatland estate wide mapping project with some of the larger ones having perimeters of 70km, covering 11.5k hectares and requiring more than 4,500 points to be navigated to, recorded and photographed.
For company owner, Angus Davidson, the specifics of this type of project dictated that he would have to reconsider how best to equip environmentalists in the field.
He quickly realised that the company’s existing handheld mapping loggers would not be able to reliably handle both the quantity of the data and the quality of the images required.
Key requirements for a replacement system included:
Following a consultation with KOREC Group, ADL purchased six Trimble TDC600 all-in-one GNSS smartphone/data collector. These have a 1.5m accuracy, with each running KOREC’s K-Capture on-board data capture software. Two Trimble subscription-based Catalyst GNSS receivers were also purchased for use in cm accuracy work as required. In addition, the team purchased a KOREC-supplied web-based portal for managing the team and the data.
It’s almost impossible to envisage the scope of a peatland estate-wide mapping project with some of the larger ones having perimeters of 70km, covering 11.5k hectares and requiring more than 4,500 points to be navigated to, recorded and photographed.
Cloud networking for managing data and creating a team
The K-Portal was used for team management and also gave the team the ability to share captured data as it was web-based. In the field, it enabled the team to:
Typically, an initial data collection project can take place over a number of days with several field workers capturing points at the same time. It’s therefore vital that the data they collect is immediately available for viewing on both the K-Portal and via the TDC600 loggers. This ensures that each worker’s progress and safety can be tracked and that there is no overlap of work. In the field, easy to use drop-down menus ensure that all collected information is in a standard format and every member of the team knows where the others are working.
Back in the office the portal ensures that there is no double handling of data or wasted time manually uploading points and images. Work can therefore begin on using that data for the preparation of peatland code registration, funding etcetera, immediately. The portal can also be used for viewing a history of each point as it is revisited to check on the effectiveness of the restoration program and provide visual evidence of successful treatment. For ADL, the ability to use cloud networking improved workflow and allowed it to take on and handle several large peatland restoration projects at once. As it develops the new workflow, the next aim is to increase the ways in which it can share both this data and other environmental project work with relevant stakeholders and clients through use of the portal.
Lucy Hamilton, KOREC Group
All photos ©Angus Davidson.