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A member of Field Data Services staff doing electronic field data collection.

Who we are

Field Data Services sits within the Centre for Inventory, Forecasting and Operational Support (IFOS) and brings together highly skilled and valued staff from the previous teams of Technical Services Unit (TSU), Technical Development Branch (TDB), and the National Forest Inventory Quality Assurance (NFI QA).

Field Data Services provide reliable, timely and high-quality field data services to support scientific evidence and sustainable tree, wood and forest management. We deliver this through a resilient network of highly trained professional staff and associates. Our services include, but are not limited to, field data collection, sample collection, field experiment maintenance, field QA, plant supply, training and advice, drone operations and terrestrial laser scanning. Staff are located throughout England, Scotland, and Wales and offer a GB-wide service.

Field Experiment Support

We support many of the field research programmes within Forest Research, focussing on the planning, establishing, laying out, maintenance and recording of field experiments. We also develop and maintain forest nursery skills (allied to Forest Research’s seed and tree breeding and improvement work), and we manage Headley Experimental Enclosure which is used for experimental work, including pesticide and fungicide trials, inoculation experiments, and the holding of genetic material collections.

Field Data Collection

We use a full range of GIS, GPS, drone, terrestrial laser scanner and portable data logging equipment to collect, interpret and present field data for a range of internal and external customers and bodies. Our field data collection services include:

  • Forest surveys (including production, attribute, evaluation, stocking and aerial photo interpretation surveys);
  • Plant health assessments (including Phytophthora, Chalara, Acute Oak Decline, Dothistroma);
  • Ecological Surveys (including National Vegetation Classification, Ecological Site Classification and habitat surveys);
  • Natural Capital Ecosystem Assessment Surveys (including Trees Outside Woodlands).

Quality Assurance

The National Forest Inventory (NFI) is a rolling programme designed to provide accurate information about the size, distribution, composition and condition of our forests and woodlands and also about the changes taking place in the woodlands through time. Field Data Services provide contract management oversight and data quality assurance for this extensive survey programme.

Drone Operations

Responsibility for Drone Operations falls within Field Data Services, we have an extensive network of trained pilots, and an evolving set of hardware and software at our disposal.

Training and Advice

We have a small dedicated team providing practical courses on select aspects of tree and woodland management, where it aligns with Forest Research output. This includes soil and site recognition, tree species selection, continuous cover forestry, and tariffing.


For more information about Field Data Services, please contact Tony Farndon or Alan Ockenden.