According to the UN, one of the keys to slowing global climate change is slowing deforestation. To do so, we might need a global campaign to manage the preservation and rehabilitation of our world’s forests. Here are a few ways geospatial technology is helping manage trees – from large forests to individual, urban trees.
Managing Large Urban Forests
A company in Amsterdam, Land Life Company, works to reestablish forests through large-scale tree planting services. This is a big job. How big? The Civil and Structural Engineer Media Magazine described the project facing Land Life as planting enough trees to cover the country of Switzerland 500 times.
The key to successfully repopulate forests is to have a high rate of survival. The trees are planted in bunches to protect against the wind. As they grow, they spread naturally and fill in the gaps. The young trees also help improve the soil, which encourages even more growth.
Since 2013, Land Life has planted 1.3 million trees. To help as many trees as possible survive, Land Life needs to monitor the growth of the trees. This helps them adjust their planting plan and send help where it’s needed.
Land Life has managed to improve efficiency on their monitoring of the growth. By using statistics, they can monitor only a few thoughts trees and get a good sample for the whole forest. Problem is, they have to monitor the exact same trees every time.
Land Life Company are using advanced geospatial technology to get the job done. Starting out they attached paper tags to the trees they wanted to monitor. This was time consuming and difficult – not to mention expensive.
In the end, Land Life went with the Trimble R1 GNSS receiver. In a forest, accuracy of less than a meter is required to identify individual trees. Land Life connects these to a phone using Bluetooth so field personnel can use familiar locating apps. Using this combination, they get the accuracy needed while making it user-friendly and easy on their field teams.
They also mount the receivers on their tree planting machines so they can create a map of every tree planted.
When comparing their old method to this new GNSS based method, Land Life also found significant time savings. What used to take two people 20 hours of work, now takes one person half the time.
Managing Urban Trees
When planning urban parks, there is a lot of thought that needs to be put into the project. It’s not a simple matter of scattering plants everywhere.
The challenge is to replicating nature with all of its complexities. Wild forests are an interconnected, living ecosystem. This ecosystem helps support young trees. Without this support, urban forests need a little more help from humans.
Companies like Green City Watch are using geospatial software to map, monitor and manage urban trees.
This isn’t new. Back in 2010, researchers with Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, MALAYSIA published a study about the feasibility of using GIS to assess urban trees. In their study, they found that GIS can replace the conventional method to make the process of analyzing the trees go faster.
What is new is the use of geospatial artificial intelligence (geoAI) technology. This emerging technology combines machine learning with remote sensing to monitor the health of the trees.
This technology can also be used when creating new urban parks by identifying the best place to put them. Everything from identifying areas that might flood to making sure there is enough green space to support the population can be done with geoAI.