In­creas­ing use of drones in for­est man­age­ment

Australian Forests and Timber - - Drones -

There has been a sig­nif­i­cant up­take of drones or ‘Un­manned Ariel Ve­hi­cles’ (UAVs) in for­est man­age­ment, ac­cord­ing to a lead­ing in­dus­try re­searcher in­ter­viewed dur­ing the lat­est episode of WoodChat, For­est and Wood Prod­ucts Aus­tralia’s (FWPA) pod­cast se­ries.

The episode fo­cused on the grow­ing body of ev­i­dence around the ef­fec­tive­ness of UAVs, cou­pled with other tech­nolo­gies such as sen­sors, in cap­tur­ing im­por­tant and in­creas­ingly ac­cu­rate data. This data can de­ter­mine tree char­ac­ter­is­tics within plan­ta­tions, and aid smart de­ci­sion mak­ing.

Hosts Sam and Vic­to­ria spoke to Dr Chris­tine Stone, Prin­ci­ple Re­search Sci­en­tist in the For­est Man­age­ment Pro­gram at the NSW De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries, who has driven a num­ber of projects that make use of this re­mote sens­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Dr Stone ex­plained that she has been work­ing along­side a team of re­searchers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous in­dus­try bod­ies and com­pa­nies, to progress re­search ini­tia­tives around this com­mon theme.

“Be­cause the tech­nol­ogy is pro­gress­ing rapidly, the num­ber of op­tions is con­stantly in­creas­ing. For this rea­son, we have been work­ing to com­pare the op­tions and their as­so­ci­ated ben­e­fits, and pro­vide guid­ance re­gard­ing what ap­pli­ca­tions each may be suitable for,” said Dr Stone.

“Cap­tur­ing the data re­quired for de­ci­sion mak­ing, plan­ning and op­er­a­tions in this way has a va­ri­ety of ben­e­fits for for­est man­agers. For in­stance, the data can be used to vir­tu­ally mea­sure stock in a way that could pre­vent the need for in­ven­tory crews hav­ing to go out into the field, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to es­tates where ac­cess is dif­fi­cult, or an OH&S risk is present.

“This tech­nol­ogy is also show­ing it­self to be use­ful in other as­pects of for­est man­age­ment, in­clud­ing de­ter­min­ing how suc­cess­ful plant­ing has been, fire man­age­ment and de­tect­ing an­i­mal habi­tats,” said Dr Stone.

Dur­ing the episode, the hosts also chat­ted to Rod Meynink of MBAC Con­sult­ing Group, about a re­cently de­vel­oped proof of con­cept which ex­plores how this tech­nol­ogy could po­ten­tially be used to de­tect Koalas in plan­ta­tions.

This episode of WoodChat was the sixth in the se­ries, and fol­lowed top­ics in­clud­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with us­ing tim­ber in con­struc­tion, a new tool which pre­dicts how cli­mate will im­pact grow­ing con­di­tions in the fu­ture, the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of wood in the work­place, and a ge­netic DNA test­ing sys­tem that can pre­dict key com­mer­cial at­tributes of trees dur­ing the ear­li­est stages of their lives.

Fu­ture WoodChat episodes will cover ev­ery­thing from the ini­tia­tives that are en­gag­ing and se­cur­ing fu­ture in­dus­try lead­ers, to mi­cro tim­ber and the de­vel­op­ment of a 3D printed gra­di­ent tim­ber panel com­posed of forestry waste and by-prod­ucts.

The WoodChat se­ries rep­re­sents FWPA’s com­mit­ment to ex­plor­ing new ways of com­mu­ni­cat­ing in­dus­try news and in­no­va­tions. Each episode in the se­ries in­cludes in-depth con­ver­sa­tions with ex­perts on re­cent dis­cov­er­ies, in­no­va­tions and ini­tia­tives.

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