Remote sensing supporting future smart decision making

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Australian researchers have proposed a holistic approach to provide meaningful insights to support smart decision making for the future.

Contemporary forest and wood products companies face a significant challenge around effective planning, as traditional resource management models and systems become outdated in the wake of ongoing technological advancements.

Thanks to the recently published findings of the FWPA-supported project ‘Next Generation Resource Assessment and Forecasting for Australian Plantation Forestry’, researchers have proposed an approach that will support the industry to utilise sensing data to improve forest growth and planning models and systems.

“Our aim was to design a modern plantation resource assessment and forecasting system, as part of a holistic approach, to better position the industry for the future,” said Philip Smethurst, CSIRO Soil and Water Scientist and Plant Nutritionist, who led this project.

“We foresee companies drawing information from the research report and using that information as a starting point to envisage new and better ways to operate in the longer term. For instance, this proposed system could provide up-to-date and accurate estimates of standing wood resource that would minimise the need for on-site staff inventory assessments.”

Remote sensing technologies including satellites, drones and ground-based sensors help foresters to determine productivity drivers such as leaf area, tree population, stand height and forest health. Meanwhile, process-based models use environmental factors that drive plantation growth in the field. These factors include sunlight, water availability and soil nutrients. The models can then simulate decades-long cycles and inform future planning.

Sensed data can be used as inputs to these process-based models to update tree inventories and project growth, assuming one or more possible climate scenarios.

“As an increasing number of companies take steps towards having minimal-to-no boots on the ground for the purposes of improved safety and reduced costs, they are simultaneously searching for alternatives to traditional forest management practices. Remote sensing technology provides one such solution,” said Braden Jenkins, co-author of the report and Managing Director at Sylva Systems.

The researchers compared the strengths of various modern process-based models that incorporate inputs from new sensor technologies, which traditional models based on historical data do not always account for. The goal is to present potential pathways for Australian forestry companies to maximise the benefits associated with these emerging technologies going forward.

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Click here to read the full report.

Source: FWPA R&D Works

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