3D Forests Show the Way for Sustainable Future

GIS – particularly the soon-to-be-released ArcGIS 10.1 software – can transform raw LiDAR data into 3D maps of the landscape that provide significantly more detail than traditional aerial photographs.

Last week, some of the team was in Tasmania attending Silvilaser 2011 – an international LiDAR forest applications conference (LIDAR uses light beams fired from a plane to measure tree and canopy height and terrain.) It was a great conference and an excellent opportunity to showcase the increasingly important role of GIS in forestry management.

Esri Australia’s Gordon Sumerling, an expert in the LiDAR space, attended the conference and spoke to delegates about how GIS, which can create highly detailed 3D maps of entire forests, has the potential to transform Australia’s $2.5 billion forestry industry.

Website Business Environment Network (BEN) ran a piece  referencing Gordon – discussing how new advances in GIS technology would ensure Australia’s commercial forests remain sustainable and renewable, and are managed in line with the world’s highest environmental standards.

 “Forestry is a vital industry in Australia, which has a total forested area of around 150 million hectares – which covers around 21% of our continent,” Mr Sumerling said.

 “GIS, when combined with traditional technologies such as LIDAR, can vastly improve critical industry tasks such as assessing forest health, calculating biomass, and identifying drainage patterns and terrain types.

 “The 3D maps GIS can generate enables users to see intricate forest detail such as where and how dense various canopy layers are, and the characteristics of ground level biomass.

 “The images also provide a detailed view of topographical changes, which will save an enormous amount of time in terms of hauling loads and positioning machinery.

 “This level of insight will be critical in the ongoing sustainable management of our forests.”

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