Thursday, 3 December 2009

A wet Thursday

Oxford City Council
Today I’ll be catching up with Henry in Oxford, dodging the rain in a café in Marston or Headington.

We’ve been instructed to record data about all the trees on housing land, communal trees (which is quite a common request) and those trees in tenants’ gardens. Oxford Homes have taken the view that they want to know what is where so that they can, if necessary, take preventative action to stop the risk of a tree damaging property. Damage might be caused by branches hitting the housing stock or by expanding roots lifting paths or patios or damaging drains.

We have yet to move on to the greater part of the project, which is to be to capture data about all the trees in the parks and open spaces of the city.

To help us we are using a MobileMapper CX – a hand-held data logger that is GPS enabled, so it knows where it is – and DigiTerra Explorer software – a simple package that allows us to record all sorts of attributes, pick lists that have been designed to suit our client’s needs.

By capturing the records electronically we can upload client ready data straight to the client’s server and into their database so that their records are as contemporary as possible.

Expressions of Interest
I have submitted an Expression of Interest for a number of interesting sounding research projects, a new area of activity for me, and I wait anxiously to see if I will be invited to the next stage of the process. Quite reasonably clients are looking for suitable experience, but without the first instruction I will not be able to gain that experience, and so it really is chicken and egg situation for me.

One particular project, which will result in best practice for the retention of green infrastructure in towns, is of particularly special interest to me because of the decade that I spent in Milton Keynes, from 1985 to 1996, helping to manage the landscape of the newly emerging city. The team was lead by Rai Darke, a far-sighted and driven man (who hates the limelight!), and who has helped to shape my thinking. We all assumed that the work we did everyday was common place, it’s only years later that I now realise how far-sighted Rai was.

Another project seems to refer to a literature review of the documented history of a particular landscape, which will inform the implementation of a new landscape plan for the area. Again, historic landscapes is not “my bag” but I know people who would be interested – if I can secure a place on the tender list when others can’t then perhaps the client will be able to get the body of work they need through the procurement exercise.

The third project will require me to act as a focal point, bringing together the demand and supply sides in a local woodland economy. The measures that will be used to determine the success of the project are hard-nosed commercial – how many start-up businesses have been created and so on, so it’s a really good pragmatic approach to what is essentially an economic project.

So, all these seem to presume an ability to communicate, not necessarily an ability as an arboriculturist” – sounds OK to me!

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