UAVs revolutionize tropical forest monitoring

Published on
January 29, 2015

Constant monitoring of tropical forests is important to increase our knowledge on effects of climate change. However, mapping aspects like forest structure, degradation and deforestation is time-consuming and expensive. Innovative high-tech approaches like Terrestrial Lidar Scanning (TLS) and Hyperspectral Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) may revolutionize the way we monitor our forests.

The Unmanned Aerial Remote Sensing Facility was involved in two campaigns investigating the use innovative technologies for mapping the effects of tropical deforestation. In this approach, UAV based sensing is allowing for multi-scale observations and filling the gap between ground based sampling and satellite based observations. The Hyperspectral Mapping System (HYMSY) observes both the forest structural information, which can be derived from the 3D point cloud data, and the biochemistry of the tree canopy which can be characterized from the hyperspectral data cube.

In September 2014, a team of three UARSF members carried out a successful campaign in the peat swamp forests of Kalimantan in Indonesia together with a large local team of CIFOR. In November 2014, a team of six UARSF members travelled to Guyana for the characterization of a large number of chronosequence forest plots in cooperation with the Guyana Forestry Commission. Analysis of the data is currently in progress and first results are expected in Febr-March 2015.

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