Increasing use of drones in forest management
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.