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OS builds hedge data layer for rural payments



Mapping agency soon to complete work to support management of Common Agricultural Policy

Ordnance Survey (OS) has provided a digital map of most of the hedges in England in order to support the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) management of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

The national mapping agency said it has now mapped 95% of the data covering 373,919 km, after having been asked to do so by the RPA in 2014, and should complete the process early next year. From then it will continue to update the dataset to keep the RPA aware of changes.

The project team made use of high resolution aerial imagery and height information, matching the data with existing OS digital maps to identity hedges in the landscape. It has been built up to provide a hedge data layer in a repeatable process.

In turn, this will be used in the checking of subsidy claims from next year, and to identify hedges declared as Basic Payment Scheme Ecological Focus Areas.

The RPA will also provide the data to farmers and land managers to use in their planning.

Vital dataset

Catherine Gladstone, OS product manager, said: “It’s been a fascinating project using new technology to deliver a vital dataset that supports our government colleagues and their customers (the farmer).

“As our technology continues to evolve and improve, so too does the depth and richness of our data, and with the data visualisations we produce, the opportunities for swifter and better decision making in government and business are often there.”

OS said the value of hedgerows has risen in recent times as they protect against soil erosion and help to reduce pollution, and are used in water supply management and flood control.  Mapping them can support other environmental policy areas such as the Rural Development Countryside Stewardship Scheme, in which hedges provide options for improving the habitats of some birds and inverterbrates.

Image: Hedges data over OS MasterMap Imagery Layer, from Ordnance Survey

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