Forestry resource managers, remote sensing GIS and mapping specialists, inventory foresters and key technology suppliers from throughout Australasia were involved in ForestTECH 2019.
Over 250 delegates were involved this year. As well as Australian and New Zealand companies, this time the annual event drew in forestry companies and key tech providers from the USA, Germany, South Africa, Chile, Spain, Indonesia, Japan, Mauritius and Latvia. This technology series has now truly established itself on the international forestry calendar.
Content for the ForestTECH 2019 series included:
- Storage, processing and management of "big data"
- The practical application of automation, robotics and sensors by forest managers
- Integrating virtual and augmented reality into forestry operations
- Results and lessons from reconciling remote sensing data into the field
- Satellite tools for mapping, planning and operations
- New innovations in mobile forest apps and collection tools
- Results from remote sensing research and in-forest trials
- Workflow solutions for data collected from airborne and UAV systems
- New mapping and GIS applications
- Changing skill sets required by today’s forest resource managers
Some key features of this year’s series were;
- The number of pre and post-conference workshops that were set up this year for ForestTECH 2019 delegates in both countries. The focus for the practical half and one-day workshops included using geospatial tools and workflows, new technologies for collecting high-quality 3D forestry spatial data using portable, handheld devices and technology advances around hyperspectral and thermal imaging for precision forestry operations.
- The number of presentations in ForestTECH 2019 being given from major forestry companies and global technology providers from outside Australasia. Key presenters this year include; Northwest Management, USA, DroneSeed, USA, GreenValley International, USA, SKYLAB, Germany, Swift Geospatial, South Africa, Forestal Arauco, Chile and IDAF Forestry Consulting, Spain.
- The significant technological advances that had been made with an array of new UAV platforms, data collection capabilities and operational applications. DroneSeed, for example, are using swarms of UAV’s (or drones) to automate tree planting and spraying operations. They’ve developed custom UAV platforms, equipped with multispectral camera arrays, high-end lidar, 23-litre tanks of herbicide and proprietary seed dispersal mechanisms which are now used operationally by major North American forest management companies.
- New technology is allowing collision avoidance for drones, GPS-denied flight, advanced autonomy and SLAM-based LiDAR mapping in challenging GPS-denied environments. Work is also currently underway on developing autonomous, unmanned aerial systems for mapping the forest from beneath the canopy. The purpose here is to provide a mapping solution for areas of dense undergrowth and dense canopy, where ground-based methods are difficult or hazardous and above canopy methods struggle to penetrate to the stems.
- Taking the results from earlier research using virtual reality technologies for forest inventory into the field. Earlier presentations detailed progress on using VR with remotely acquired 3D point cloud data to see if foresters could from the comfort of their office, visually characterize and measure individual trees. The VR technology is being fine-tuned with industry to enable implementation in the field. The VR Forest Inventory software application is now available for a public trial.
Some of the new innovations, operational trials results, research and stand-out technologies covered will be built into future issues of the monthly newsletter, foresttech.news.