Scottish Woodlands

Scottish Woodlands Ltd - the United Kingdom's leading Forest Management Company

GIS: Digital Mapping and Data Management Services

Scottish Woodlands has a dedicated management team that delivers and supports Geographical Information Systems (GIS) based mapping services to our own managers and to external clients.

We have been using digital mapping and data management applications in forestry for over a decade. During this time we have accumulated a diverse range of experiences that we apply to appropriate and 'fit for purpose' solutions in this technically challenging and dynamic field.

Our primary software platform is ESRI’s ArcGIS, but in order to meet the needs of our clients and managers we also have purpose built software extensions that help us to deliver a comprehensive management system dedicated to forestry. We call this forest management platform 'ArborIS'.


ArborIS - Scottish Woodland's own purpose built forest management platform


As well as our own internal systems, we have additional experience with multiple data formats, software and hardware applications, including but not exclusively;



  • ESRI Arc 9 and Arc10 - industry leading GIS
  • ArcPad - GPS enabled mobile GIS for data transfer in the field
  • QGIS - free open source GIS
  • Google Earth - to render 3D visualizations and to provide access to maps without GIS
  • Pdf maps - mobile application for data capture and location assessments
  • Arbor-IS - bespoke forest management software (purpose built extension to ArcGI)


  • Drones - for aerial photographs and surface models
  • GPS - for location and mapping works
  • Laser rangefinders - for height and distance measurements
  • Digital Calipers - for tree measurements
  • Tablets & mobile phones - for data collection and viewing maps using mobile platforms

Data types and formats

  • Shape files
  • File Geodatabases and feature classes
  • PostGres/PostGIS databases
  • Geo TIFF's Geo JPEG's and Geo PDF's

Data Processing

  • Raster Calculations of LiDAR data for crop height assessments
  • DTM & DSM Processing for 3D imagery and slope analysis
  • Model building and bespoke programming for data validation and conversion
  • Conversion of GIS data into other formats for working outside of GIS, including MS excel, MS access, csv, xml, kmz
  • Viewshed analysis


Examples of GIS in use


LiDAR to determine the height of trees

LiDAR to determine the height of trees


Data capture using Drones

Data capture using Drones

LEFT: 2cm aerials captured by a drone. RIGHT: same image using standard 24cm aerials. (Scale 1:50)


External Data

We also link and use external datasets from other organisations direct into our GIS.

Examples of sources of data include;
SNH, Historic Scotland, Forestry Commission, Scottish Government, Natural England, DEFRA, Natural Resources Wales, Ordnance Survey, SEPA.

This gives us access to hundreds of live data streams direct from source, examples include: Ancient Woodlands, historic monuments, designated areas, aerial photography, land form data, forestry site classification data and grant related information.



GIS can also be used to streamline and demonstrate compliance in areas such as:

  • Grant applications and planning including Forest plans and grant scheme applications
  • Registers of Scotland land registration
  • Forest Certification


Examples of our GIS in action

Built on this knowledge we have also created bespoke solutions for other land management requirements for some of our clients.

Some recent applications include the following:

Paper maps archive

A large mixed land-use estate had a valuable information resource recorded on hundreds of old paper maps. Accessing the information within the maps and relating this to modern GIS-based data had become a problem.

A paper map archiving solution was developed which saw the historic paper based map archives scanned, digitally stored and viewed in a georeferenced (the paper maps match the actual location of the ordnance survey maps in GIS) location on the estates' GIS. The maps can now be displayed at the correct location in the GIS with a single click of a button.

The maps that are added are only maps that are within the extent of the area viewed on screen at the time the button is clicked. This provides a cost effective way of viewing all historic maps in the GIS environment without the need to digitise the individual components of the map.

It not only preserves all of the data on the map that would otherwise be lost in the digitising process such as hand written annotations, sketches and notes, it also provides a digital archive and back up of the valuable data.

Revised database for recording land information

An updating and renewing exercise recently saw the consolidation of over a decade of GIS and MS Access data into a completely re-designed GIS. The exercise began with hundreds of individual GIS files and paper based archives (covering over 35,000hectares) and brought them all together into a new and efficient GIS. The new system also has direct links to a purpose built MS Access database (a platform which staff were familiar with) so that the data could be accessed and edited without GIS training.

The geometry (or shapes) on the ground were updated to meet the standards of the latest Ordnance Survey Master Map and this is now being used for registering the estate under the new Registers of Scotland Voluntary registration process.

Mobile GIS

In the office or out in the forest GIS can now be available to anyone at any time. We have professional quality GPS units, Windows, iOS and Android tablets and even mobile smart phones that can utilise our GIS data.

We use the mobile platforms in the field to view aerial photographs base maps and our own GIS data, to capture new spatial data and as real time location devices.

We also have applications that allow us to use referenced pdf’s as a base map so your actual location on the ground can be seen on a pdf or jpeg image, this allows us to share spatial data with external clients and contractors in formats that do not require GIS software.

An example of this is used for slope maps:

  • We use Digital Terrain Model data and process it in GIS to produce detailed terrain maps
  • The data is then exported into a referenced PDF
  • This data is shared with contractors or staff for planning or hazard management
  • The users location is shown 'live' on the map at all times and continuously updated
Digital Terrain Model data is used to produce detailed terrain maps

This example map shows in red areas of extreme slopes that should be avoided during harvesting operations


Land Registration

In May 2014, the Scottish Ministers instructed the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland (RoS) to complete Scotland’s Land Register within a 10 year period.

Since then, Scottish Woodlands have completed a number of plans for the land registration process and are supporting landowners who wish to register their land through the new voluntary process.

All land is to be registered by 2024

To find out more about Land Registration visit the RoS website

If you have a requirement to produce an ownership plan, or for any other GIS or data related queries, please contact Adrian Kirby at our Head Office in Edinburgh.


Head of IT & GIS:

Adrian Kirby

Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 5154