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New Technology for Better Timber Inventory

 

LiDAR images provide a very useful description of forests that could eventually be used to replace or complement conventional ground based measurements. Cost of aerial LiDAR is often prohibitive for forest owners, particularly for small owners, but technology is now emerging that will help reduce these costs.

LiDAR scanning units weighing just a few kilograms are now available to attach to UAV's or drones and hand held units have recently become available. An example of such a unit is the ZEB1 which enables a user to gather detailed LiDAR images of individual trees from the ground. Work is underway to create descriptions of stem diameter, whorl location and size as well as the location of each tree. Additional processing could quantify lean, taper, sweep, pruned height and intermodal lengths. Further developments of the ZEB1 will enable colour images to be captured as well as the LIDAR cloud data. The unit could also be used to measure felled stems and logs.

Under the GCFF programme, supported by the Forest Grower Levy Trust, Scion is trialling these units with the aim of providing improved forest descriptions for forest owners at lower costs than conventional inventory offers.

Stem scanning