Canadian Forest Service Publications

Use of remote sensing for forest vegetation management: a problem analysis. 1997. Pitt, D.G.; Wagner, R.G.; Hall, R.J.; King, D.J.; Leckie, D.G.; Runesson, U. Forestry Chronicle 73(4): 459-477.

Year: 1997

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 18848

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

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Forest managers require accurate and timely data that describe vegetation conditions on cutover areas to assess vegetation development and prescribe actions necessary to achieve forest regeneration objectives. Needs for such data are increasing with current emphasis on ecosystem management, escalating silvicultural treatment costs, evolving computer-based decision support tools, and demands for greater accountability. Deficiencies associated with field survey methods of data acquisition (e.g. high costs, subjectivity, and low spatial and temporal coverage) frequently limit decision-making effectiveness. The potential for remotely sensed data to supplement field-collected forest vegetation management data was evaluated in a problem analysis consisting of a comprehensive literature review and consultation with remote sensing and vegetation management experts at a national workshop. Among curently available sensors, aerial photographs appear to offer the most suitable combination of characteristics, including high spatial resolution, stereo coverage, a range of image scales, a variety of film, lens, and camera options, capability for geometric correction, versatility, and moderate cost. A flexible strategy that employs a sequence of 1:10,000-, 1:5,000-, and 1:500-scale aerial photographs is proposed to: 1) accurately map cutover areas, 2) facilitate location-specific prescriptions for silvicultural treatments, sampling, buffer zones, wildlife areas, etc., and 3) monitor and document conditions and activities at specific points during the regeneration period. Surveys that require very detailed information on smaller plants (<0.5-m tall) and/or individual or rare plant species are not likely to be supported by current remote sensing technologies. Recommended areas for research include : 1) digital frame cameras, or other cost-effective digital imagers, as replacements for conventional cameras, 2) computer-based classification and interpretation algorithms for digital image data, 3) relationships between image measures and physical measures, such as leaf-area index and biomass, 4) imaging standards, 5) airborne video, laser altimeters, and radar as complementary sensors, and 6) remote sensing applications in partial cutting systems.