Mapping the historic parks of England

9 July 2024

Zulu Ecosystems and the Forestry Commission (FC) collaborate to map the location and extent of England's ancient parkland.

Zulu Ecosystems, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission (FC), has launched a digital map of the boundaries of England’s historic parks. With historic maps provided by the National Library of Scotland (NLS), the project will help inform FC decision making and woodland creation ambitions.

The result – the OS Historic Parks Layer – draws from over 10,000 maps and 1,701 map tiles from the OS 6-inch 2nd Edition England maps (1880s).

Zulu Ecosystems used deep learning and machine learning (ML) techniques to identify the historic symbology used to classify parks. This data was then refined through a combination of ML, post-processing techniques and manual verification to ensure accuracy across a large scale.

Tom Sunley, Project Manager at the Forestry Commission, commented: “The 2nd edition Ordnance Survey maps from the 1880s are invaluable for locating parkland. Previously, we would have relied on manual identification but now we have a single, comprehensive digital layer that showcases England’s historic parks and their boundaries.”

Historic parks play a crucial role in England’s cultural, ecological and historic narrative. Accurately mapping these areas supports effective decision making to support woodland creation.

Ed Asseily, CEO of Zulu Ecosystems, commented: “We are proud to support the conservation of England’s historic landscapes. This project not only showcases the role of technology in real-world nature regeneration but also the vital role of public-private partnerships and collaboration.”

Chris Fleet from the National Library of Scotland commented, “We are very keen to share information from our map collections, and this collaboration has created an important new dataset showing parks on Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition six-inch maps. We hope that the refinement and improvement of this parks layer before its release as an open dataset will assist the wide range of people today who are interested in England’s historic parks.

Ordnance Survey Six-Inch maps (1888-1913)
Present-day satellite imagery, the National Library of Scotland

Contact us

To explore the OS Historic Parks Layer, compare ancient park boundaries with their current extents and contribute to its accuracy, visit the interactive map here.

For more information on how to regenerate landscapes as a landowner or volunteer, please contact

Written by
Ed Asseily
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