The Parks Trust cares for millions of trees across Milton Keynes' parks and green spaces. The vast majority are younger trees which were planted as part of the development of Milton Keynes, however, there are also more mature trees which predate the city.
Excluding the three ancient semi-natural woodlands which we maintain (Shenley, Howe Park and Linford Woods), the mature trees leftover from historic landscapes are quite small in numbers and therefore they are very important to us, the city and for the biodiversity they offer.
Our operations team carefully manage the landscape to retain young and mature trees within the parks whilst ensuring they are suitable for their location, not posing safety risks or causing damage to property. One of the ways we do this is by monitoring the trees through tree inspections.
Undertaking Tree Inspections
To help us manage our trees effectively we undertake regular tree inspections that are regulated and recorded. Our team survey and inspect our tree stock for several reasons including health and safety, tree health (pest and disease monitoring) and biodiversity benefits. We survey trees in accordance with the up-to-date tree survey techniques (as recognised and used by the Arboricultural Association) as well as our internal arboriculture policy.
Depending on factors such as the tree’s condition, age, size, location, and associated pests and diseases we select the most appropriate type and schedule for surveying and inspecting.
How we carry out inspections
We’ve recently developed a new system to support how we carry out inspections to transition away from conducting paper-based surveys outdoors and then heading back to the office to file them. Instead, our tree inspections are now carried out and recorded using an online web application. To make this possible we worked alongside Makilo, a creative development agency based in Milton Keynes, to build a solution that helped us streamline the processes we had in place, digitise the surveys and put them into the hands of the team in the field via tablets and smartphones. Doing so now means we can maintain the landscape proactively, record accurate information, update our systems in real-time and improve efficiency and public safety.
The web application allows our team to pick from a set of tailored survey types from basic to detailed inspections. These might be for individual trees, tree groups or even zones within the city. The system includes photo uploads, offline capabilities and geo-mapping meaning we can define the location of a single tree or draw up the boundaries of a group of trees from a mobile and tablet device allowing us to compile a map of the trees we monitor.
Whilst embracing technology, our team have been able to significantly increase the number of surveys we can conduct and we look to continue the ongoing innovation within our organisation to manage other assets and our green spaces across Milton Keynes.