Continuous monitoring of your forest resource

In ForestTECH, Issue09 by FIEA

To effectively manage resources decision makers, require timely information at an appropriate scale. In the recent years there has been a marked increase and uptake of remote sensing technologies – drones, LiDAR and satellite imagery. In a sense they all have a place provided they are cost-effective, provide consistent results, and add value.

Not to go unnoticed is the increased availability of Earth Observation (EO) data and advances in technologies that allow cost-effective repeat assessment of forest resources. The two main catalysts have been the launch of more satellites and the development of cloud-based processing engines – enabling the development of near real-time monitoring applications.

The terms ‘big data’ and ‘planetary-scale analysis’ have become synonymous with the processing of Earth Observation (EO) datasets. In essence, these terms refer to the vast volumes of EO data collected and archived since 1972, a trend that has continued with the launch of the Sentinel satellites – a constellation commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA). The two Sentinel satellites 2A and 2B alone, enable repeat imaging of the same spatial location every five days at a spatial resolution of 10 m. Combined with the Landsat constellation (L7 and L8) this increases to 6-7 observations per month.

The increased temporal resolution represents an important shift towards continuous monitoring of resources. The ability to monitor the same location repeatedly enables the detection of subtle changes in vegetation vigour and identification of trends. The real analytical efficiencies are accomplished by leveraging off cloud computing architecture which hosts and serves petabytes of historical and recently acquired images on-demand. With data held in this environment there is no need to individually review, download, or process and analyse satellite imagery as was the norm in the recent past.

These developments represent a major change in the way data is analysed – allowing on-demand processing while simultaneously accessing an ever-increasing repository of global datasets, satellite images, topographic and climatic observations. For decision makers this moves the conversation towards better understanding of when and how these datasets should be applied and what questions they assist in answering.

The resource monitoring team at Indufor have developed a Continuous Plantation Monitoring System that leverages off both free and commercial satellites to provide timely and accurate information. This service enables the monitoring of harvesting and plantation development across large areas. For more information on the CPMS click here.

Information on this, including a raft of new developments around forest resource management and monitoring, was explored at ForestTECH 2017.

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