Satel­lites aid con­tin­u­ous for­est mon­i­tor­ing

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

RE­MOTE SENS­ING TECH­NOLO­GIES USED IN THE FOR­EST HAVE come a long way in re­cent times and many for­est man­agers now rely on drones and LiDAR for day-to-day mon­i­tor­ing.

While the low cost of drones has driven their use, it’s the in­creased avail­abil­ity of im­agery and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances from high above the canopy pro­vid­ing near real-time views that have been the cat­a­lyst for greater adop­tion of satel­lite in­for­ma­tion.

New satel­lites with the ca­pac­ity to record and mon­i­tor veg­e­ta­tion change are now launched monthly and their ready avail­abil­ity and re­duced ac­cess cost is en­abling foresters to mon­i­tor a given lo­ca­tion re­peat­edly to de­tect sub­tle changes in veg­e­ta­tion vigour and iden­tify un­der­ly­ing trends.

Any such ini­tia­tives do, how­ever, in­volve mas­sive data sets and down­load­ing and stor­ing these for lo­cal pro­cess­ing can lead to un­work­able de­lays. That has now been over­come by the ad­vent of cloud stor­age.

This has en­abled In­du­for’s re­source mon­i­tor­ing team to de­velop a Con­tin­u­ous Plan­ta­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem (CPMS) that can ac­cess both free and com­mer­cial satel­lites (such as Planet) to pro­vide timely and ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion across forests.

Dr Pete Watt, head of In­du­for’s Re­source Mon­i­tor­ing Team, says the CPMS out­puts save time and re­sources by al­low­ing tar­geted field in­spec­tions. These are de­signed to quickly val­i­date har­vest ar­eas and pin­point ar­eas of un-mapped change, dis­ease or crop fail­ure.

“For ex­am­ple, be­fore go­ing to the field, we run our Canopy In­dex (CI) model over the satel­lite im­age to check for any un­usual de­vi­a­tions from ex­pected bench­mark values,” he says, adding that ex­am­ples might in­clude ar­eas af­fected by fo­liar dis­eases or pock­ets of wind dam­age.

Al­go­rithms have been de­vel­oped to pro­vide au­to­mated mon­i­tor­ing of such planned op­er­a­tions as har­vest­ing, road­ing and plan­ta­tion thin­ning. These events can be tracked by com­par­ing images ac­quired at dif­fer­ent points in time. The de­tec­tion al­go­rithm iden­ti­fies the change and groups all sim­i­lar pix­els to pro­duce a change layer that can be loaded into a GIS. The out­puts in­clude a sum­mary of the area har­vested to date.

Dr Watt will be among a num­ber of ex­perts pre­sent­ing at the up­com­ing 2018 ForestTECH con­fer­ence be­ing run for for­est re­source man­agers, re­mote sens­ing spe­cial­ists and in­ven­tory foresters later this month. It runs in Ro­torua on Novem­ber 14-15 and then again in Mel­bourne a week later. For more de­tails go to www.foresttech. events.


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