HS2 Ecological data capture and GIS interactive mapping

Our involvement in providing Ecology and Maintenance / Vegetation Clearance services on the HS2 project has demonstrated the need for us to provide bespoke and transparency of detailed information as it builds up daily, communicating the status of ecology mitigation and progress with not only our teams on the ground for the best co-ordination, but also our clients to give oversight of all past, current and future works.

Methodology - How it works

It is essential on working across such a large geographical area of C1, C2 & C3 Sectors, that we are able to track and capture accurate information which everyone has access to and we now provide this service as standard to improve our ability to run, plan and deliver projects with such complexities.

Our GIS team collate, map and plot the results from pre-project environmental and ecological survey data for an area spanning shape 3 to shape 30 (roughly 32 km2). We create a bespoke web based GIS mapping and desktop dashboard with our in house specialists to provide everyone involved in the project the ability to have a real time overview of this information at any point.

Screenshot of a dashboard containing live HS2 data

How we did it
Utilising the latest GPS and GIS technology, we firstly map all of the shape boundaries provided to us and then using this data, we then built up a detailed base map using aerial photography and satellite imaging. For areas that required a higher level of detail, we use UAVs, piloted by GVC qualified pilots to gather high quality imagery.


Prior to the works commencing, ecological surveys are completed in relation to species such as great crested newts, reptiles, badgers, owls and bats. The precise location for all areas of interest, such as priority habitats, potential nesting birds, bat roosts and the presence of GCN are captured, using mobile GPS devices. 


Using this mapping database, we integrate all of this spatial data on top of the base layer, creating a multi-layered map that clearly represented their findings.

Real-time data capture using mobile GPS devices

Real-time, remote data capture
GNSS devices, preloaded with maps and data enable our field engineers to capture locations, images, and notes from anywhere. These maps are pre-configured and staff are then briefed before visiting the sites, ensuring that only relevant information is collected.

Ecologists in the field plot any new ecology blockers (e.g. nesting birds, badger setts, etc.) with a digital custom built collection form, which instantly updates the GIS ecology layer. Supervisors on the ground are then able to see in real time the exclusion zones, helping them avoid working in that area until cleared to do so; drastically reducing the risk of breaching ecology regulations or causing an environmental incident.

In order to allow the works to proceed efficiently and in accordance with all ecologist recommendations, we implement a simple colour-code system to allow on-site staff to easily identify the status of a particular tree (if mitigated, unmitigated, or if an ecological blocker was in place). As the status of the tree changes, it is immediately available to everyone, along with individual records complete with pictures and charts.

All of this ecological and spatial information is collected in the database and populated in the client's dashboard, allowing project teams and ecologists to monitor progress in real-time, or search using unique identifiers in the future.

The result
The result of all this effort is a custom branded, data-rich interactive map and live dashboard, which gives our clients access to high-quality live data and enables them to monitor their sites from a single, easy-to-access, secure location.

Built using industry leading Esri ArcGIS, all data is securely stored on ISO 27001, FedRAMP, and SSAE 16 SOC1 Type2 compliant cloud infrastructure, with security controls at every level, for every user, including the application, network, and facilities.

By visualising the entire project in such a powerful and collaborative way, everyone involved in the projects delivery benefits. Clients are given full transparency into all areas of the project, allowing decisions to be made quickly and see work progress from start to finish.

Project stats

  • 661,000 sqm of Woodland cleared  
  • Circa 2440 trees felled
  • Circa 4 million sqm of Grassland cleared
  • More than 18 km of Hegderow cleared
  • 722,967 sqm invasive flora recorded and mapped
  • 29,192  sqm AMP (Amphibious) areas  recorded and mapped
  • 13,481 sqm RPTG (Reptile) areas recorded and mapped
  • More than 500 PRF tress recorded and mitigated within 5 months
  • 551 Badger setts successfully closed
  • More than 5Gb of text notes and images created and securely stored
  • Zero environmental incidents