EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review : Julie Procter, Greenspace Scotland : 16th Feb

[NB March seminar rescheduled for May (25th); *Next talk*: Fri 27th Apr]

EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar Review: Julie Procter, Greenspace Scotland: 16 February

Friday 16 Feb 2018

For the February edition of the EEO-AGI Scotland Seminar in Edinburgh, we welcomed Julie Procter to the Geography building and were rewarded with an engaging foray into the new OS Greenspace map products and their many applications. Julie is the Chief Executive of Greenspace Scotland, which she has led since it was established in 2002. Though she was hasty to mention to the assembled crowd of geospatial scientists that she was personally no tech expert, her talk provided a refreshing change of perspective as an exploration of the history of the Greenspace Map’s development and the new possibilities afforded by its newest iteration. The title: “Using OS greenspace to transform urban places into people places.”

Julie began by describing the challenges and successes of the original Greenspace map of Scotland, released in 2011. The public benefits of accessible greenspace are directly related to many objectives of the Scottish Government, so there was great interest in developing a resource to manage and display this data, but at the time there was no unified repository for greenspace data. The first release of the Greenspace map solved this issue, but the team quickly realized that keeping it up to date was going to be a monstrous task; this realization led to their partnership with the Ordnance Survey. The OS Open Greenspace map now updates every 6 months, and the OS MasterMap Greenspace Layer for public sector and academic use also includes more categories such as woodlands and private gardens.

After this tour of the history of the greenspace products, Julie decided to give the audience a bit of homework. Distributing post-it notes, she asked us to write down some of our ideas about how we might use the greenspace data while she went on to describe how it’s been used recently by a number of organisations. From local council land use strategies to greenspace network development on regional scales, the public sector has been an important and innovative user thus far of the greenspace data.

As a final theme, Julie covered some big news from the very recently published Third State of Scotland’s Greenspace Report. The new MasterMap Greenspace Layer enabled the production of some eye-opening statistics and figures about the urban greenspace in Scotland. For example, the area of urban greenspace in Scotland is equal to 22 Loch Lomonds, or 1593 square kilometres – enough for one green tennis court per person (of course, it is not currently the plan to convert all of Scotland’s greenspace into tennis courts). These figures are exciting, but Julie reminded us that many of the public benefits of greenspace depend on the quality of that space and whether it is used, and assessing that quality is the next big step for the Ordnance Survey, Scottish Greenspace, and the Scottish Government.

We diligent members of the audience did not forget that we had homework, and nor did Julie. She opened a discussion to follow up on the group’s ideas on potential uses for the greenspace data, which had the excellent benefit of seamlessly transitioning to a question and answer session. Audience engagement was high, particularly as the MSc students had previously used the OS Open Greenspace data for a project and were keen to ask clarifying questions and to share their experiences with the dataset.

Luckily for members of AGI Scotland who did not attend the Edinburgh seminar, Julie also spoke at the organisation’s annual meeting on 27 February, contributing to the theme of GI Applications. It will be exciting to watch for new research and, hopefully, new strides ahead for Scotland’s greenspace that will be enabled by this important resource.

Taylor Willow

(MSc Geographical Information Science at University of Edinburgh)

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