NZ forestry collaborates on 532,000ha LiDAR project

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Interpine Innovation is currently around 50% through the LiDAR capture of 532,000ha of plantation forest in New Zealand. It’s a collaborative project that brings together forest owners, which affords efficiencies in both LiDAR capture and processing.

LiDAR which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the ground below. These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the ground and its surface characteristics, including detailed 3D models of the forest canopy.

The survey is using a world leading LiDAR sensor to capture the highest density airborne LiDAR acquired at this scale anywhere in Australasia, and likely the world. Digital terrain models derived from the data will be used to improve the engineering of our forest activities; including modelling of the drainage and catchments for better environmental management, and allowing for forest harvesting advances for improved safety and efficiency of operations.

Much of the area captured will also implement Interpine’s LiDAR Imputation methods for deriving forest yield. Detailed representations of the forest canopy structure are derived from the 3D point cloud forest canopy metrics. These canopy metrics are then modelled through machine learning and applied analytics to provide estimates of commercial forest yield by log-type, a key driver of forest valuation and wood-flow marketing and modelling.

Interpine Innovation based in Rotorua, has been at the forefront of developing and applying LiDAR within the forestry sector in both New Zealand and Australia. Some of the new technology, operational trials and research findings around LiDAR will again be a key component of this year’s ForestTECH 2017 series that will be running for resource managers, GIS specialists and inventory foresters in November. Further details and an early programme for the series for both countries can be found at www.foresttech.events.

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