12 December, 2016

Data-driven approach helping with forestry management

Remote sensing and the increasing use of UAVs are making the management of forestry more accurate than it has ever been.

Rapid progress in data capture sensors and techniques in forestry means a massive expansion in the data available to the industry. The opportunity currently presented to the forestry industry is to make this data meaningful. Industry now needs to build solutions which can take this data and produce information products which ultimately lead to improved business.

Better data inputs

Low cost, rapidly deployable flexible data capture through UAVs is suited to the relatively small areas in an agricultural context. There were many presentations at the conference from organisations such as the Forestry Corporation of NSW where there was a strong sentiment that the use of UAV’s is very much in the implementation phase currently. As little as two years ago UAV’s were still being tested and evaluated to see what they had to offer. There is now no doubt that drones have a role to play with providing the forestry industry with access to data.

As well as the use of UAV’s there were innovative applications of a range of sensors including thermal cameras and LiDAR. For controlled burns and wildfires thermal cameras enabled accurate positioning of burn boundaries hidden by smoke clouds. LiDAR sensors are being used to provide more accurate forest inventory capabilities compared to other capture methods.

Forestry relies on GIS. The forestry industry is intrinsically spatial and it was pleasing to see there is widespread adoption of GIS practices. There was no question regarding the value that GIS can provide to the forestry industry and the increase in data available through drones and satellites will make GIS even more valuable to the forestry industry over the coming years.

Nathan Eaton presented at ForestTech2016 regarding initiatives NGIS are delivering in the resource management industry that harvest massive amounts of data and produce meaningful outputs. NGIS are industry leaders in this space, partnering with technology providers Google and ESRI to produce valuable products. See Green Precision and Coastal Risk Australia for examples of our work.

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