Underpinning a move to precision forestry

A new tool has been designed that will allow forest practitioners to create very detailed maps of current woodland on the public forest estate

News from Forest Research: June 2012

Example map produced by Forest Research integrated LiDAR and modelling toolsDeveloped by Forest Research (FR), the application integrates airborne LiDAR – an optical remote sensing technology that measures distance using laser pulses – with a suite of models developed at FR. The aim is to develop a method of estimating woodland properties at a very fine scale.

The information arising from this work could, for example, allow forest practitioners to implement alternative silviculture methods and therefore manage forest resources in a more sustainable and precise manner.

As an example, the Forestry Commission’s growth models for Sitka spruce have been reengineered using this approach to estimate site index, mean diameter, basal area, volume and total number of trees, based on top height (extracted from LiDAR). Estimates are normalised by the percentage of canopy cover, also calculated from LiDAR.

When presented as forest maps, the information is very detailed (the results are at a scale of 10 x 10 m2) and provide a greater understanding of the differing dynamics and characteristics within woodland areas.

For more information contact Juan Suárez.

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This and other news stories can be found in the Summer 2012 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.