LiDAR Used to Map Vegetation in Scottish Forests, Monitor Tropical Deforestation

by | May 28, 2019

Soaring over Scotland's majestic landscape and beautiful forests, drones are helping to map the species growing under the upper canopy of the trees thanks to advanced laser technology.

This is a great opportunity to address some of the challenges facing our own environment, with innovative technologies, such as drones equipped with LiDAR sensors, said Sarah Middlemiss, Space Programme Manager at Ecometrica.

The data collection is organized through the Scottish Earth Observation Service (SEOS) operated by Ecometrica in partnership with funding partners: Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Orienteering, Woodland Trust and the University of Edinburgh.

Among its projects, Ecometrica spearheads Forests 2020, a UK Space Agency program to map deforestation of tropical forests in West Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, a project that previously relied on a range of satellite data and sources on the ground to build its detailed interactive maps of crops and forests. Now, thanks to advances in unmanned aerial vehicles and laser-based LiDAR imaging systems, detailed 3D maps that distinguish between plant species, unobstructed by other vegetation, can offer unique insights into the health of ecosystems.

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