In 2018 we launched a mapping project to better establish which species we have in the collection and record their positions. Since then we have gone on to create a map in QGIS (open-source mapping software) and successfully transitioned to a new accession numbering system.
The new map was initially linked to a master spreadsheet, which had to be periodically updated with plantings and any additional information we had managed to find out. This was then used to create visitor and management maps. It was a good system to start with, though we had no access whilst on site to edit, update or find out the location of trees. We ideally needed something that would work on a phone or iPad, so we could interact with the data.
After trialing a few methods we finally found a solution that worked – a service call Mergin, which offers cloud storage for QGIS projects. This then ties into an app called Input, which can be downloaded onto a mobile device and you can then navigate your QGIS project in the field – accessing both the map and database. New information can be added and everything syncs up nicely.
This means volunteers can now search for trees and it was a valuable tool when attaching replacement tree labels. We can also search the database for specific tree species, and pinpoint their location.
In the future we hope to also add in pictures of each tree (taken via app), and then create a more interactive public view to the map and collection.
Another bonus is that we can now add the position of new plantings onsite, either using phone location or manually referencing the nearby trees.
Our volunteers recently planted our 47th new addition, a Stewartia sinensis, taking pride of place in our centre clearing.
Glimpse of the past
In other news a volunteer recently found some of the original tree plaques, with the help of a metal detector and a bit of sleuthing – more details on our findings coming soon!
Read more about our mapping project
New labels for an old collection
Creating a map