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New app launched to give more accurate picture of Storm Arwen impacts

Published on :Friday, December 31, 2021

Forest Research has launched a new citizen science app combining England and Scotland windblow data to increase the knowledge of the full impact of Storm Arwen. The app is easy to use and allows anyone to validate and improve the information available.

Richard Hunter, Confor’s Technical and Industry Support Manager, said: “This is an opportunity to identify some windblown areas that might have been missed, and to enhance what we know already. This will be very important as we try to manage the situation and maintain as stable a market for timber crops as possible.” 

The app will remain open until 23 January and the information collected will be turned into a report to support the industry. The app launched on December 17, already had more than 100 hectares validated, much of that removing false positives produced by satellite imagery. New information is fed back into the algorithm that reads the satellite data and turns it into a shape file. The system learns and  therefore the next imagery reading is more accurate – so the more area validated, the more accurate it becomes.

Mr Hunter thanked Confor members who provided valuable information through a windblown questionnaire sent out recently, adding: “This has now been superseded by the new app – produced by Forest Research, with the support of Scottish Forestry, Forestry Commission and Confor. We encourage members to engage fully with this app.”

This is the latest collaborative effort between Confor and the public forest bodies in response to Storm Arwen, which caused intensive damage to Scotland’s woodlands – especially down the east coast, across the Borders and East Lothian, stretching into Galloway. Another swathe of damage runs through Aberdeenshire, Angus and into Perthshire. There was also significant damage in northern England.

Scottish Government Environment Minister Màiri McAllan said: “Storm Arwen provided a salutary lesson of the power of nature and the challenge of climate change. Our people suffered and so, too, did our natural environment.

“The impact is evident in the distressing images of flattened forests and woodlands which will take decades, if not centuries to recover from. Their loss reminds us of the significant role trees play in our lives, communities, economy and wellbeing.

Most of the trees that have been flattened will be removed over the next year and sent to wood processors across Scotland. In time, the forests will be replanted.

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