Drone mapping project near York

The North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre (NEYEDC) is carrying out aerial drone mapping of two replanting schemes on the Escrick Park Estate as part of the Estate’s ambition to restore greater biodiversity to the land. The project has been designed in conjunction with locally based environmental charity and NBN Trust member, Woodmeadow Trust.

Woodmeadow Trust is driven by a vision to fight back against the catastrophic decline in biodiversity across the UK. At their flagship Three Hagges Woodmeadow site, sited on land leased from Escrick Park Estate, in addition to the planting of trees and shrubs, the meadows and glades have been sown with lowland meadow flora, to replicate the floodplain meadows that once were so much a part of the rural heritage on the fertile Ouse-Derwent floodplain. These meadow mixes form the base of the ecological pyramid that provides feeding and breeding places for an incredible diversity of insects, birds and mammals.

Annual surveys carried out at Three Hagges Woodmeadow since 2015, have so far formally recorded the presence of 1,113 invertebrate species – including a wide variety of ladybirds, moths, beetles, grasshoppers and spiders – with more being discovered all the time. A wealth of insect pollinators, attracted by a huge diversity of wildflowers that form a blaze of beautiful colour in the spring and summer, includes 34 bee species, 26 butterfly species, and 43 hoverfly species, many of which would not have been found on the site when it was a barley field.

Now, two new woodmeadow sites are being established elsewhere on the Escrick Park Estate and the NEYEDC is using state of the art drone technology to map the innovative tree-planting patterns and record the growth of the trees and plants. Once recorded, this data will provide a baseline for future management as the habitat continues to develop over the coming years.

Speaking of the project, Simon Pickles, Director, NEYEDC, said:

“This is a really exciting project and demonstrates how useful drone technology is in recording ecological data and identifying how a habitat develops. We first visited the site as part of our ‘Resilient Heritage’ project in 2017, NatureHack, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and looks at ways to make new environmental data technologies available to conservationists and land managers across Yorkshire. We are delighted that we now have an on-going collaboration with the team at the Woodmeadow Trust and are able to record the efforts of their nature recovery aims and inform future management decisions.”

Rosalind Forbes Adam, Founder and Director of Projects, Woodmeadow Trust, commented:

“The Estate has given us a major opportunity to design the restoration of an ancient woodland site, returning it to its former glory not only by restocking with native broadleaf trees but also by designing areas of open space which optimise the rich woodland ground flora. The Trust’s management plan aims to be both sympathetic to wildlife and beneficial for timber. It is wonderful to have the help of NEYEDC to record our progress from the start. The quality of their images is fantastic and will enable us to monitor over time what is happening on the ground.”

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