The Nature Conservancy has begun using a drone to aid its reforestation efforts in northeast Minnesota.
By Cody Nelson and Jiwon Choi
To understand the health of a forest, conservation workers typically hit the ground and survey the land acre by acre.
It can involve trudging through the woods with hiking boots or snowshoes, looking for gaps in the forest canopy that need restoring.
But this summer, the Nature Conservancy’s Minnesota branch found an easier way to survey the large swaths of forest that comprise some of the over 60,000 acres it manages in the state.
The conservancy began using a drone to aid its reforestation efforts in northeast Minnesota. It has helped in several ways from making highly detailed maps to providing flyover video in key areas.
“It’s almost like another staff member,” said Chris Dunham, the nonprofit’s forestry manager. “We’re a small, small forest team here and we can use every advantage we can get.”
While the forest may look quite thick from the bird’s-eye view, the vantage point can be misleading. The nonprofit has estimated hundreds of thousands of acres of North Shore forest is in need of some help.
One of the Nature Conservancy’s focuses in Minnesota is on restoring riparian gaps — or places along rivers and streams in the forest where trees have died or been cut down.
Restoring these gaps is good for preventing erosion into the river, sequestering more carbon in the forest and creating better wildlife habitat.
There’s still ground-truthing to do once the drone footage in hand, Dunham said, “but you can be way more efficient if you’ve already taken a cruise above the trees and know where you’re headed.”
By Soyeon Bae, et al
Recent progress in remote sensing provides much-needed, large-scale spatio-temporal information on habitat structures important for biodiversity conservation. Here we examine the potential of a newly launched satellite-borne radar system (Sentinel-1) to map the biodiversity of twelve taxa across five temperate forest regions in central Europe. We show that the sensitivity of radar to habitat structure is similar to that of airborne laser scanning (ALS), the current gold standard in the measurement of forest structure. Our models of different facets of biodiversity reveal that radar performs as well as ALS; median R² over twelve taxa by ALS and radar are 0.51 and 0.57 respectively for the first non-metric multidimensional scaling axes representing assemblage composition. We further demonstrate the promising predictive ability of radar-derived data with external validation based on the species composition of birds and saproxylic beetles. Establishing new area-wide biodiversity monitoring by remote sensing will require the coupling of radar data to stratified and standardized collected local species data.
Peter Krzystek, Professor for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing at Munich University of Applied Sciences tells about new investigations into the 3D mapping of forests.
Modern remote sensing sensors offer completely new possibilities for an extensive and detailed 3D capture of tree populations, making it possible to map at very large-scale. In particular, LiDAR is today an established technique for fast and highly accurate 3D scanning from the aircraft, helicopter or drone where pulses of visible or near-infrared laser light at a particular wavelength are used to create 3D images. These 3D images are typically made up of a high density of data points, known as ‘point clouds’. The new full waveform technology, which reconstructs the complete path of the laser beam through the vegetation, makes it possible to map the forest structures in 3D more precisely. Moreover, digital aerial cameras enable a detailed reconstruction of the forest surface and provide – if fused with LiDAR data – extra spectral information in the infrared range for a characterisation of the tree species. All in all, these new technologies are ideally suited for the automatic and cost-effective collection and characterisation of forest stands.
Things are looking up in a swath of forest in southern Germany, thanks to innovative funding from the European Union for a project that aims to help policymakers better understand how the forest’s ecosystems work.
The ECOPOTENTIAL project uses satellite images for ecosystem modelling in 25 Protected Areas in Europe (as well as Kenya, the Caribbean and Israel) to address climate change and other threats to ecosystems. In the Bavarian forest, the images and mathematical models of ecosystems, or “Earth Observation tools”, are helping to assess the impact of climate change and pollution, and shape national protection policies.
UN Environment is one of many partners supporting the 2015-2019 ECOPOTENTIAL project, funded by the European Union to the tune of 16 million euros.
Within the ECOPOTENTIAL project, Earth Observation tools and “remote sensing”, including by aircraft and drones, are being used to better understand how vegetation is evolving across the park and over time.
Satellite and drone pictures are detecting patterns of dominant plant species, linking habitat characteristics with terrain, and tracking animal movements. The park administration is also carrying out intensive research on tree regeneration, the role of dead wood, and the impact of global warming and extreme climatic events on the future development of these ecosystems.
By John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications
Researchers using satellite imaging have found much greater than expected deforestation since 2000 in the highlands of Southeast Asia, a critically important world ecosystem.
Zhenzhong Zeng, a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and the lead author of a July 2 article describing the findings in Nature Geoscience, said the researchers used a combination of satellite data and computational algorithms to reach their conclusions. The report shows a loss of 29.3 million hectares of forest (roughly 113,000 square miles or about twice the size of New York state) between 2000 and 2014. Zeng said that represents 57 percent more loss than current estimations of deforestation made by the International Panel on Climate Change. He said most of the forest has been cleared for crops.
Because forests absorb atmospheric carbon, and burning forests contribute carbon to the atmosphere, loss of forests could be devastating. An accurate estimation of forest cover also is critical for assessments of climate change. Zeng also said transformation of mountainous regions from old forest to cropland can have widespread environmental impacts from soil retention to water quality in the region.
This article addresses professionals like foresters, ecologists, project developers, certifiers, and environmentalists (in the following called natural resources managers) who are new to the field of remote sensing or who want to update their basic knowledge.
What will you learn? You will learn to
distinguish between various data collection methodologies,
understand the pros and cons of different data sources, and
select the right data set to answer your questions efficiently.
By KATIERA WINFREY
Climate scientists credit a new satellite mapping system with helping firefighters battle wildfires, and they say the new system helps better connect fire agencies across the state.
A lot of the fire-spotting happens at the National Weather Service.
The fire-mapping system has proven to be most helpful in rural areas where wildfires popped up recently.
Efforts by the Brazilian government over the past 15 years to curb deforestation have been a widely celebrated success, but a new study finds that there’s more deforestation happening in Brazil than official accounts suggest.
The study, led by researchers from Brown University, compared data from Brazil’s official Monitoring Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by Satellite Project (PRODES) with two independent satellite measures of forest cover. The study found that about 9,000 square kilometers of forestland not included in PRODES monitoring were cleared from 2008 to 2012. That’s an area roughly the size of Puerto Rico.
“PRODES has been an incredible monitoring tool and has facilitated the successful enforcement of policies,” said Leah VanWey, co-author of the research and senior deputy director at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. “But we show evidence that landowners are working around it in ways that are destroying important forests.”
The research is published in the journal Conservation Letters.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-10-significant-deforestation-brazilian-amazon-undetected.html#jCp
This research examines the impact of forest management regimes, with various degrees of restriction, on forest conservation in a dry deciduous Indian forest landscape. Forest change is mapped using Landsat satellite images from 1977, 1990, 1999, and 2011. The landscape studied has lost 1478 km2 of dense forest cover between 1977 and 2011, with a maximum loss of 1002 km2 of dense forest between 1977 and 1990. The number of protected forest areas has increased, concomitant with an increase in restrictions on forest access and use outside protected areas. Interviews with residents of 20 randomly selected villages indicate that in the absence of alternatives, rather than reducing their dependence on forests, communities appear to shift their use to other, less protected patches of forest. Pressure shifts seem to be taking place as a consequence of increasing protection, from within protected areas to forests outside, leading to the creation of protected but isolated forest islands within a matrix of overall deforestation, and increased conflict between local residents and forest managers. A broader landscape vision for forest management needs to be developed, that involves local communities with forest protection and enables their decision-making on forest management outside strict protected areas.