Software from the Group of Geoenvironmental Cartography and Remote Sensing at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (PUV) is part of the INFOREST project coordinated by COTESA (Center for Observation and Spatial Remote Sensing S.A.U) and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade. The other teams that have taken part in the research are the Social Capital Group and Sustainable Development at the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the Group of Inventory and Natural Resources Management at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.
According to Luis Ángel Ruiz, a PUV researcher, the project has yielded key information for managing forests using data from Earth observation at local, provincial and regional levels. He also states that its results are particularly relevant to ensure optimal maintenance and exploitation of forests from an ecological point of view.
To obtain the final maps, the software integrates the entire light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data treatment process, which also was developed by the researchers, from the generation of digital terrain models, feature extraction and model estimation of forest variables.
“From airborne LiDAR data and software application, we generate maps that can improve knowledge about the evolution of a forest, how its structure and characteristics change, as well as its potential to absorb CO2 and its wood volume,” says Ruiz. “All this has positive effects on its maintenance, fire prevention or sustainable use.”
The return time of LiDAR’s laser pulses allow users to register the position and coordinates of the recorded points and, therefore, measure terrain, vegetation, buildings and other elements in 3-D. The final point cloud data can be processed and analyzed for use in various applications, including the study of forest stands.
To develop this procedure, the scientists conducted a comprehensive field survey, and airborne LiDAR data were acquired in a mountain area of 4,100 hectares in the municipality of Cuenca (Spain). Given the importance of forest management in the area, the project has been backed by the City of Cuenca and the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha.
Image courtesy of PUV.
Source: Science Daily