Without doubt the most exciting technology being developed and applied in forest management at the moment is remote sensing. Two years ago when the Australasian forest technology series, ForestTECH 2009 was run, results from some very early trials with LiDAR were being discussed. Organisations like Forestry Tasmania and Forests NSW were at the forefront of these first trials – evaluating the technical, operational and financial feasibility of using LiDAR across a range of forest management activities.
Results from these trials clearly demonstrated that LiDAR was able to be integrated into a forestry company’s inventory and planning systems. Significant savings could be made over traditional systems, particularly where terrain and drainage was not well understood (for harvesting and road construction planning) and where forest inventory costs were high. The quality of the data being captured over traditional methods was also vastly superior and technical issues around processing and handling large volumes of data had successfully been overcome. A lot has happened since that first technology update two years ago.
More operational trials have been rolled out. LiDAR is now firmly incorporated into the forest inventory and management systems of a number of larger Australian companies including Forestry Tasmania, Forests NSW and ForestrySA. Large scale trials are being undertaken by companies like VicForests, the Forest Products Commission and Hancock Victorian Plantations. In New Zealand, a number of LiDAR trials are currently being undertaken in three forests about the central North Island.
In two years, work on stand and single tree attributes which are fundamental to all softwood inventory systems from data captured by LiDAR and multispectral cameras have proved to be very accurate. The validation work on the accuracy of volume estimates for the first large scale New Zealand forestry LiDAR trials is expected to be completed by mid to late 2011.
ForestTECH 2011 will provide Australasia’s first independent platform for local foresters to outline what remote sensing technologies have been trialled, what the results have been and what it’s meant operationally and financially to the company.
ForestTECH 2011 will run in Albury, NSW on 1-2 December and again for New Zealand foresters in Rotorua on 6-7 December 2011. Full details of the programme can be down loaded from the event website, www.foresttechevents.com