How Technology is Transforming British Columbia’s Forest Industry
(Timber West) For forest companies, like TimberWest, the health of the trees and associated ecosystems are paramount. From seedling to maturity, the trees must be monitored and any problems addressed. The way in which this monitoring happens is changing dramatically through the convergence of new sensing technologies such as LiDAR, and the ability to deploy sensing technology using drones.
What was once used only for air space and meteorological research, LiDAR, which stands for LIght Detection And Ranging and is commonly referred to as airborne laser scanning, is now being used for forest research to more accurately examine everything from the height and diameter of trees to ground terrain evaluation and plot-level wood volume estimates.
In the just-released video Forest for the Trees: How technology is transforming BC’s forest industry, University of British Columbia (UBC) forestry professor Dr. Nicholas Coops emphasizes LiDAR and drone use are just two more recent examples of the forest sectors technological revolution, and the types of technology incorporated into every-day forest management.
Coops explains LiDAR technology can be used with airplanes or drones and involves sending pulses of light down to the ground that bounce back and mirrors the data captured into images that allow forest planners to measure the topography, depth, height, slope and other values of the land being surveyed.
Domenico Iannidinardo, TimberWest’s Vice-President of Sustainability and Chief Forester says he sees great value in LiDAR technology and drones when it comes to forest management and planning. LiDAR can provide a wide range of enhanced ecological applications such as evaluating microhabitat diversity and watershed modelling. Through the use of LiDAR, forest planners can rapidly and accurately produce three-dimensional data-sets which allows them to better assess road building opportunities, stand value and wood quality, resulting in more efficient inventory management.