Russell's Report

PF Olsen Ltd forest managers will shortly be trialling a new system of measuring forests using a new inventory system developed by Scion researchers as part of the FFR Radiata Research Theme. The new approach to measuring standing forest has been developed with the aim of reducing forest inventory costs while still achieving the required levels of precision in the sampling process. Forest inventory costs are significant for forest owners and any cost reductions are always welcome for investors. The key feature of the new inventory system is that aerial or satellite images are used to assess the number of standing trees in a given area of forest. This is done by applying an algorithm that was originally developed by CSIRO in Australia to the digital image to count the individual stems in the stand or compartment. Once the stocking is determined a transect or line method is used to asses tree size, form and wood quality.. The advantage of this form of transect sampling is that fixed area plots, which are expensive to establish, are no longer required and the sampling can cover a greater proportion of the forest stand. Preliminary studies have shown that cost savings can be as high as 40% on easier terrain and on average 30-35% cost savings are possible.