Smart Tree Logging with Remote Sensing

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Irish company, Treemetrics claims that on average 20% of a commercial forest’s value is wasted due to inaccurate manual measurement of the trees and wasted cutting.    The company uses a combination of satellite imagery, UAV, and LiDAR to work with forestry managers to map out forests in order to better assess the quality and value of their forests and to cut down on waste.  The forest is inventoried using a 3D laser that builds an inventory of the forest and assesses straightness and quality of the trees.  The geospatial technologies used extend to real-time harvest monitoring that allows forest owners to remotely manage the cutting of individual trees by communicating directly with the harvester.

Treemetrics is the brainchild of two former foresters, Enda Keane and Garret Mullooly who want to transform how commercial forests are mapped and harvested.  Keane states, “It’s achievable to cut down less trees than we cut down today, while still meeting up to the needs of planet Earth’s increasing demand for wood. We need to have more knowledge about forests, and the type of trees in them, before we can cut.” 

Traditional forestry involves manual tape measurements and estimating tree heights by looking up, factors that help contribute to excessive tree cutting that not only cuts into profit but also has a detrimental affect on the health of the forests and biodiversity.  Tree also present different values, depending on their straightness, presence of knots, and diameter.  Some trees are more suitable for pulp while others have a greater value as timber (or lumber).  By creating a 3D map of the forest, Treemetrics is able to measure the shape, size and straightness of standing trees and develop a cut plan for foresters depending on which type of tree they need to harvest.

3D tree scan.

3D tree scan.

With the in-cabin display, forest managers can relay real-time information back to the harvester machine about which trees need to be cut.


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When installed in the cab of a harvesting machine, the Treemetrics display gives detailed mapping information, showing the operator which trees should be felled and how the wood should be cut.

When installed in the cab of a harvesting machine, the Treemetrics display gives detailed mapping information, showing the operator which trees should be felled and how the wood should be cut. Source: Treemetrics

References

Doyle, Carmel. “Irish Clean-tech Firm Vies to Be the Google for Forestry Data.” Silicon Republic. N.p., 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://www.siliconrepublic.com/clean-tech/item/23974-irish-clean-tech-firm-vies>.

“Satellites for Smart Logging.” European Space Agency. N.p., 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Telecommunications_Integrated_Applications/Satellites_for_smart_logging>.

“Trees Tell Their Own Story to Satellites.” ESA’s ARTES Applications. N.p., 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://artes-apps.esa.int/news/trees-tell-their-own-story-to-satellites>.

 


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