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Algorithms To Enhance Forest Inventories

April 29, 2019 |

This article was originally published on

“An EPFL doctoral student has come up with methods to map out forests more effectively using aerial remote sensing, in support of on-the-ground forest inventories.

Forests are an essential component of the world’s ecosystems and a key indicator of our planet’s health. They provide valuable resources – like wood for construction and heating – and they filter rainwater, protect against erosion and avalanches, and can be used for numerous leisure pursuits. For these and other reasons, it’s important to monitor their development through regular forest inventories. On-the-ground inventories, in addition to being subject to the observers’ subjectivity, are costly and laborious and can only be done in easy-to-reach regions. As a result, they are not carried out very often, and only in limited areas. In Switzerland, for example, the national  has been updated only every ten years or so since 1985.

Aerial remote sensing can be a good complement to on-the-ground monitoring. It is more objective and less expensive, and it can cover a larger area. Two techniques are currently used: airborne laser scanning, which determines the three-dimensional structure of the forest, and , which identifies the precise color of the , even beyond the visible light spectrum. Scientists know how to collect these two types of data, but extracting the information needed to monitor and manage forests is more complicated…”

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