A future for wildlife - mapped with Ordnance Survey

The National Forest Company is creating a new wooded landscape across 200 square miles in central England using GIS application

Creating a detailed habitat map for wildlife conservation with the National Forest Company.

The National Forest Company (NFC) is leading one of the country’s boldest environmental projects: creating a new, wooded landscape across 200 square miles of central England.

OS MasterMap helped to create a detailed map, allowing analysis of various ecosystems and enabling a targeted action plan for future wildlife conservation. This case study explains how it was done.

  • 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster
  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer


The National Forest Company aspired to accurately map England’s woodland landscape in order to better understand and plan for wildlife in future.

However, the project faced a number of challenges:

  • Developing a Geographic Information System (GIS) application with accurate mapping to model existing and potential woodland and other ecological networks.
  • Analysing habitats and looking at the potential for plants and animals to thrive and expand within them.
  • Ensuring vulnerable species such as smaller mammals and invertebrates don’t get stranded in fragmented habitats.


Joining the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) gave The National Forest access to OS MasterMap. This allowed the creation of a much more detailed habitat map with a level of spatial accuracy that couldn’t previously be achieved.

This meant habitat units could be based on OS MasterMap polygons rather than digitised by eye from raster maps.


  • With access to OS MasterMap, The National Forest was able use more detailed, reliable mapping to analyse various ecosystems.
  • Common features such as buildings, gardens and roads can be automatically identified.
  • Digitising large areas of The National Forest now takes hours rather than days.
  • Reliable monitoring, strong evidence, accurate reporting has helped to drive intelligent planning for wildlife.
  • The National Forest saved hundreds of pounds a year saved in licence fees.

"OS products are an essential part of our day-to-day working. They underpin the monitoring and reporting of the ongoing creation of The National Forest and they support the innovative research we are undertaking to ensure our future network is targeted to provide the most benefit."

Sam Lattaway, Head of Landscape, Biodiversity & Recreation

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The Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) supports the delivery of critical infrastructure and services, as well as working to help protect our environment.  

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Products and solutions featured in this study

  • 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster

    1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster is an open dataset of the regional view of towns and villages, roads and places of interest.

  • OS MasterMap Topography Layer

    A map dataset of Great Britain's landscape – from roads to fields, to buildings and trees, fences, paths and more.