Australasia's home for timber news and information

Forests go digital with mapping technology

A new mapping technology using digital data captured from aerial surveys will be trialled in State forests, Forest Resources Minister, Paul McLeay announced last week.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) from aerial surveys technology will provide much more detailed knowledge of NSW forests.

The LiDAR technology will identify the types of forest and location of water courses like creeks across the state, as well as precisely plotting tree heights, steep areas, roads, and access tracks.

“The more precise the information we have, the more we can focus on delivering a safer and more sustainable forestry industry,” McLeay said.

“This improved mapping accuracy will also be very valuable to other organisations like the Rural Fire Service, to help them better prepare for emergencies.

“It will be also useful for assessing and managing inventory in planted forests, down the track, so the industry can proceed in the most responsible way possible.”

Duty MLC, Kayee Griffin, said the technology would improve safety for forestry workers.

“Currently, all mapping resources on offer, such as those provided by aerial photographs, need to be proofed by staff on the ground,” she said.

“This can pose a risk to workers, particularly close to waterways where the terrain can be almost impenetrable.

“With LiDAR data we will use GPS tracking so staff will no longer have to physically plot the areas on foot – creating a safer work environment for those in sector.”

From next month, the trial will focus on native forests on the mid-north coast near Taree, Wauchope and Kempsey.

“This will allow us to fill the gaps in our knowledge of forests in the Gloucester, Walcha and Bulahdelah areas,” said Griffin.

The two-year, $500,000 trial is expected to deliver savings of around $1.8 million for Forests NSW, with the exact amount saved to be determined over time.