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Drones and LIDAR Aid Monitoring of Australian Forests


Drones and LIDAR Aid Monitoring of Australian Forests


Leading remote sensing scientists from Australia and New Zealand have been testing state-of-the-art sensor equipment mounted on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototypes and a helicopter in the Carabost State Forest, near Tumut.

The trans-Tasman group of 12 scientists from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), the University of Tasmania and Interpine, has been capturing research data in the Pinus radiata plantation.

DPI Leader Forest Science Dr Christine Stone said through collaboration with a key forest industry service provider (Interpine), remote sensing specialists and robotic scientists, the project aims to deliver efficient, customised plantation assessment dataflow solutions.

“We’re harnessing the latest technological developments in remote sensors and platforms for the capture and processing of 3D dense point cloud data for plantation resource assessment,” Dr Stone said.

“It was an exciting space to be in Carabost State Forest, we applied the most advanced remote sensor technology currently available for forestry applications.

“The sensors on these platforms are capable of acquiring ultra-high density point cloud datasets, suitable for tree-level on screen visual assessments and 3D reconstruction modelling.

“Using the information captured last week, the study will allow us to assist timber plantation growers to optimise the extraction of tree-level resource information from remotely acquired data.”

Interpine Operations Manager Bruce Hill said the group was looking to collect LiDAR data that will enable tree assessments on the computer screen and reduce the exposure to the difficult conditions within plantations.

“These difficulties are often encountered through the manual assessment of tree plots. Many forests can be difficult to work in due to steep terrain and dense understorey vegetation,” he said.

This field campaign is part of trans-Tasman research project, “Optimising remotely acquired, dense point could data for plantation inventory”.

The project is funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia and collaborating forest growers with in-kind support from the SCION, University of Tasmania, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Interpine.

The Carabost State Forest is a Pinus radiata plantation managed by Forestry Corporation of NSW.

Source: NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)

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Cite this article as: Phillip Smith, "Drones and LIDAR Aid Monitoring of Australian Forests," in, March 2, 2018,

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