Cut­ting edge technology brings pin­point ac­cu­racy to lo­cal for­est man­age­ment

Australian Forests and Timber - - Technology -

Greater pro­tec­tion for wa­ter­ways and more ac­cu­rate tim­ber vol­ume es­ti­mates are some of the ben­e­fits stem­ming from a six-month project to cap­ture so­phis­ti­cated LiDAR data across all state-owned plan­ta­tions in Tu­mut and Tum­barumba.

Snowy Re­gion Plan­ning Man­ager

Dun­can Watt said the data gen­er­ated from the project would im­prove both en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment and wood flow to lo­cal mills dur­ing tim­ber har­vest­ing across the re­gion.

“LiDAR data is cap­tured us­ing an in­cred­i­bly ac­cu­rate sen­sor mounted in an aero­plane that emits and re­ceives mil­lions of laser pulses across the land­scape. Ev­ery time a laser pulse strikes an ob­ject, it re­turns a sig­nal to the sen­sor that can then ac­cu­rately record the three-di­men­sional lo­ca­tion of that ob­ject,” Mr Watt said.

“The laser pulses can even pen­e­trate through the tree canopy and record the pro­file of the for­est floor. As a re­sult, we can now cre­ate a three-di­men­sional pic­ture of the for­est canopy, the for­est floor and the in­di­vid­ual trees stand­ing in the for­est.

“LiDAR data is much more ac­cu­rate than the maps we cur­rently use to iden­tify creeks, rivers and ground slope in our op­er­a­tions – some of which are up to 50 years old – and means we can now pin­point ex­actly where drainage sys­tems are and pre­cisely how steep the ground is.

“Ground slope has a strong in­flu­ence on how we man­age each sec­tion of for­est, par­tic­u­larly in steeper ar­eas where even a small slope vari­a­tion can cause us to change the way we work to en­sure wa­ter­ways are pro­tected from ero­sion, so this data will re­ally en­hance en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

“Ex­cit­ingly, we can now also ac­cu­rately es­ti­mate the num­ber and height of in­di­vid­ual trees stand­ing in the for­est in­stead of re­ly­ing on es­ti­mates drawn from small sam­ple plots, which means we have a clear idea of how much tim­ber is avail­able in each sec­tion of for­est be­fore we har­vest.

“This will bring huge ben­e­fits to lo­cal in­dus­try more broadly, as we’ll now be able to let pro­ces­sors know what vol­ume of which prod­ucts will be com­ing out of each har­vest­ing op­er­a­tion and en­sure we main­tain a con­sis­tent sup­ply of the tim­ber and wood prod­ucts the lo­cal in­dus­try re­lies on.”

LiDAR data is much more ac­cu­rate than the maps we cur­rently use to iden­tify creeks, rivers and ground slope in our op­er­a­tions ...

■ Forestry Cor­po­ra­tion’s Jeff Matthews us­ing a tree height mea­sur­ing tool (Ver­tex) in a 13 year old plan­ta­tion near Tu­mut.

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