England's landscape to be captured in 3-D
England's entire landscape is to be mapped by 2020 using the latest 3-D technology, the government's Environment Agency (EA) announced Saturday.
Using aircraft equipped with laser scanners, all England's landscape, including rivers, fields and national parks, will be mapped, enabling the agency to generate new data to assess flood risk and inform conservation work.
The EA said as well as being used to understand flood risk, the data will also be made available for free to the public and industry to be used by archaeologists, environmental and urban planners, and even gamers to make accurate 3D models of the landscape.
Currently about 75 percent of England is mapped but with only sporadic coverage of upland areas. The new project, beginning over winter, will cover all of England's national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) such as the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.
EA CEO James Bevan said: "This ambitious project will enhance our understanding of England's unique natural features and landscape, helping us better understand flood risk, plan effective defences and fight waste crime."
"We will be able to gather, use and share such valuable data to contribute to environmental improvements and conservation. It's just one of the many ways the Environment Agency is using technology to help people and wildlife."
The EA has been using lidar, or light detection and ranging technology for 20 years to better understand flood risk. Maps are created by aircraft equipped with laser scanners, which measure the distance between the aeroplane and the ground.
The data collected can then be used to plan flood defenses across whole river catchments. It also helps environment officers spot sudden changes in the landscape that could indicate illegal waste dumping.
Other organisations also use the data to help improve the environment, such as Natural England which uses data to assess wildlife habitat.