Unlocking the true value of forestry data

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It’s the one forestry technology event every year that brings in forest resource managers, inventory foresters, GIS specialists and researchers from throughout Australasia.

Last year, over 250 delegates attended the end-of-year ForestTECH series. It highlighted new data collection technologies and advances on accessing, processing and better interpreting the associated big data streams that were being collected out in the field.

Rapid improvements in smartphones and tablets, the development of user friendly forestry apps and increasing connectivity has changed just how forestry companies are using this data to improve their forest operations – everything from the measurement of stand volumes through to the scheduling around wood flows and logistics.

Ask any forester, the technology has moved on considerably in just 12 months. The quality and quantity of data being collected through an array of new sensors and platforms has increased exponentially. The task now being grappled with is how best to sort through and use the collected data and convert it into something that’s useable for all stakeholders.

The focus for this year’s ForestTECH 2017 series will be on “unlocking the true value of data” for local forestry operations. New systems for better measuring, managing and analysing this information will again be reviewed as part of this year’s technology series.

Recent in-forest trials by leading technology providers and forestry companies have also been completed. The outputs now being built into day-to-day forest planning and operations. Numerous projects have been finished and the results along with new tools and templates are now ready to be presented to local companies.

A number of key findings are linked to the world class three year, AU$1.8 million collaborative research project jointly funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA), forestry companies, universities and government. Research outputs that can now be picked up by local forestry companies include methods to map forest canopies using aerial photography that are effective and cost less than other airborne remote sensing techniques or field-based measurements.

An “app” has been developed to count individual trees using 3D point cloud data acquired from airborne remote sensing, a forest sampling method has been devised that can significantly reduce the number of reference plots required to produce a representative model of the variability in a forest stand and best practice guidelines have been developed for airborne data collection. This is going to assist local forestry companies to achieve efficiency gains from remote sensing of the forest estate and to integrate dense 3D point cloud data into their operational workflows.

This year’s series will run in Rotorua, New Zealand on 15-16 November and then again in Melbourne, Australia on 21-22 November 2017.

In addition to the very latest research, trials and web-based tools around LiDAR, an introductory workshop is being held at the venue the day after each ForestTECH 2017 conference. Run by Dr. Martin Isenburg from rapidlasso, Germany and Interpine, it will be covering how to manipulate, process and visualize LiDAR datasets, with a specific focus on forestry derived outputs. Further details can be found on the ForestTECH website, www.foresttech.events

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