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Future Forests Research Update: New Satellite Imagery Has Potential for Forestry Applications

Satellite imagery has been available for 30 years or more but the low resolution, high cost and timeliness has resulted in limited uptake for routine commercial forest management applications in New Zealand. Through the Future Forests Research (FFR) Radiata Theme a new generation of satellite imagery, only available since late 2010, is being evaluated. Early indications are that the imagery may be suitable for routine forestry applications such as quarterly harvest area measure ups, storm damage assessment, disease mapping and forest establishment assessments. These are normally carried out using aerial photography taken from small aircraft.

The new imagery can be ordered over the Internet, is available in almost real-time from a constellation of five satellites that can reach any location on earth daily and can be supplied as an image that can go directly into a forestry organisation's GIS system. PF Olsen is already looking at the technology and FFR is undertaking a case study to test the imagery and its application for forest owners and managers and will be reporting back to FFR members.

New Information for Redwood Growers

A new redwood productivity map has been prepared by Scion with the assistance of MAF. This is now available for use by FFR members and others with an interest in growing coastal redwoods. By combining existing redwood growth information with information such as temperature and rainfall, predictions of productivity across New Zealand have been mapped. The map enables current forest owners or potential investors in redwoods to make predictions of future yields in the absence of existing growth information. There is increasing interest in redwoods as a source of durable timbers and their long life and ability to carry large volumes per hectare is of interest to those seeking long-term carbon investments