Prospect overview Download Getting started Context data Species codes

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Overview of the Prospect program. (duration: 8:39) - we recommend viewing in full screen mode.


Prospect helps woodland designers to rapidly produce 3D visualisations of woodland proposals. Prospect generates 3D images both as visualizations of digital terrain models and as photo-montages.

The speed and simplicity involved in generating the images makes it feasible to use 3D imagery in the early design and consultation process.

Prospect can also be used to help to assess the visual impact of wind farms.

Prospect can generate animations of windfarms.


Prospect can generate images for different seasons.

A woodland scheme with a drape of aerial photography.

A layer showing new roads can be combined with the woodland.

Ordnance Survey raster tiles can be draped over the landscape instead of aerial photography. Colour is used to indicate differences of altitude.

Distant hills are included in the view.

A photograph of a woodland scene.

The same photograph as a montage with a woodland scheme added.


Prospect uses standard GIS "Shape" files of woodland compartments combined with free Ordnance Survey digital terrain data. The 3D surface can be draped with imagery, such as aerial photographs, scanned paper maps, or raster map tiles.

Optionally you can include the woodlands in the Forestry Commissionís National Forest Inventory to create the context for your woodland proposal. Similarly, the Forestry Commissionís forest roads can be shown. Both these datasets are available for free from the Forestry Commission web site and can be included without any editing or processing.

Prospect can be used to create both "static" and "temporal" projects.

Static projects

To create a static project you need to supply the species, and optionally the height and tree spacing, or density, for each sub-compartment. This is a simple and fast way to generate views that represent a snapshot of a woodland in a given static state.

Temporal project

A "temporal" project is one in which in which the woodland can be seen to evolve over time. If your Shape file includes an attribute field for the planting year then you can rapidly generate a series of images for different future years. Prospect includes its own growth models so that for each species an appropriate height will be displayed for a given age. Similarly, Prospect uses a default thinning model so that mature woodlands will be displayed with a lower density than new plantations.

The Shape files that you use can either be a single file describing a set of polygons that live through a series of events (e.g. felling, restocking) or else you can use the Forestry Commission's four-file system of compartments, components, coupes, and restocking. If you use this latter model then Prospect can rapidly merge the files to generate a series of maps and 3D visualizations showing the state of the woodlands at the years you specify.

When a map for a given year is generated the program also produces a breakdown of the percentages of different species and of the spread of different ages of the stands.

Species distribution for a specified year.

Age distribution for a specified year.

You can also start without any Shape file and draw and edit new compartments entirely within Prospect.

Images can be produced at greater than the screen resolution and for different seasons of the year.

Surface Analysis add-on module

As an option, Prospect can be used with an add-on module for analysing a terrain surface on the basis of its geometry. For example:


  • steepness of slope
  • contours
  • lines of sight - view-sheds
  • cathment areas
  • "lines of force".
  • shadow casting
  • transect along a path

Lines of sight.

Casting shadows from the sun.

Contours and "lines of force".


Catchment area.


A single user annual licence for Prospect costs £595 + vat per year.

A single user annual licence for Prospect plus the Surface Analysis add-on module costs £795 + vat per year.

Corporate licences are by negotiation

Note that if you already have a licence for version 1 of Prospect then the licence will also apply for version 2.


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