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Laser points the way to new forest management

LASER APPLICATIONS for forest management was the focus of the SilviLaser 2008 Conference at Edinburgh’s Heriot -Watt University.
ForestrySA resource planning manager Jan Rombouts joined research scientists and practitioners from around the world to share their experience in the development and application of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data in forestry and environmental management.
As a part-time PhD student at the University of Melbourne, Rombouts – who is based in Mount Gambier – was given the opportunity to attend.
“While `laser in forestry’ would seem like a highly-specialised conference topic, the breadth of the presentations was surprising and two days were hardly adequate to cover all the material,” he said.
“Laser applications ranged from terrain mapping, forest inventory, insect damage assessment to predicting whether a particular rare bird species would occur in a patch of forest.”
Rombouts presented a paper on LiDAR based site quality assessment of pine plantations in South Australia.
The technique will be applied in the Green Triangle region for the first time early in 2009 on an operational scale and will produce information needed to compare the productivity of current with previous plantations, as required by ForestrySA environmental monitoring guidelines.
The Edinburgh SilviLaser conference was the eighth in a series, with previous events held in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Germany, the USA, Austria, Japan and Finland.
Australia has been invited to organise the 2011 edition of the conference.
“ForestrySA and other Australian forestry companies will have a lot to show to the world. We should grab the opportunity,” Rombouts said.