LIDAR is an active form of remote sensing that stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is mainly used to measure distances between earth and space using laser pulses that emanate from a sensor and striking an object and then reflected back to the sensor. This technology has several uses in forestry. Below are a few of the applications in this vast field.
LIDAR technology is used to calculate the surface elevation values in forests. Other traditional technologies such as photogrammetry are not very accurate as compared to LIDAR. LIDAR collects this data by using laser pulses to strike the object precisely and it is not obstructed by canopy or forest vegetation.
2. Forest planning and management
LIDAR technology is relied upon in the planning and management of forests. For instance, LIDAR can be used to measure the vertical structures of the canopy in the forests and also to understand the density of the canopy.
3. Forest fire management
Fire departments across the world are using LIDAR technology to manage forest fires in a variety of ways. For instance, the technology provides data that can be used to monitor the fire patterns in the forests making the fire department aware of the next possible forest fire and even put measures to avoid it.
4. Precision forestry
Precision forestry is the planning of a specific forest site for the purpose of increasing the productivity of the site in terms of the quality of tree and the overall yield. LIDAR data provides precision data regarding a specific site and helps in targeting the area in order to achieve this.
5. Forest Mapping
LIDAR data is important in providing the exact data regarding the terrain of a particular place and its suitability to plant a forest in that area. The data gotten from this technology will give details about the terrain including the land height and quality of soil to determine its suitability to have a forest.
6. Environmental Assessment
The data generated from LIDAR is used in environmental assessment. This assessment is usually done to ensure the plants and trees in a forest are protected. This can also be used to find an area in a forest that has been affected by human activities and put mitigating factors to reduce environmental degradation.
7. Biodiversity of birds
Forests are home to several bird species, insects and animals. Forests experts rely on LIDAR data to analyze the vertical cover of trees in the forests and then use this data to determine the suitability of bird species that can thrive in that environment.
8. Ecological and Land Classification
Ecological and Land Classification (ELC) is usually done to provide accurate information about a particular landscape. This information was traditionally extracted using surveying. But LIDAR technology gives much more accurate information in determining what land will be put under forests, what area will be under habitat management and so on.
9. Pollution modeling
LIDAR technology can be able to map a forest and determine the pollutants that are found in and around the forest and help researchers and forest experts to eliminate the pollutants and hence keep the forest healthy.
10. Estimation of carbon absorption
LIDAR technology can be used to get accurate data regarding the forest including the level of carbon absorption in the forest. This data is then used to determine the amount of carbon within a specific location in the forest and help researchers make improvements.
11. Study forest ecology
The data collected through LIDAR technology is precise enough to offer all the information regarding forest ecology and the habitats within the forest. This information then helps the researchers to understand what kind of animals live in the forest and what species will survive and which ones will not.
12. Quantifying forest fire fuel
The fact that LIDAR technology is precise in its calculation makes it ideal in the quantification of forest fire fuel. This data can be used to calculate the exact number of trees within a given area and also determine the amount of forest degradation in that area.
13. Forest structure analysis
LIDAR technology has already been used in determining the forest structure. The data collected can tell the vertical distribution of light transmittance and the foliage distribution. It can also determine the height and density of trees within the forest.
14. Individual tree analysis
LIDAR data is already being used to calculate individual tree characteristics including the tree height and the crown diameter. With this data, people can then determine the health of trees in that particular region and come up with ways of improving the overall tree health.
15. Controlling deforestation
LIDAR data can be used to calculate the expected tree output in the forest and the actual tree output and determine the exact difference. This data can also be used to explain the cause of the discrepancy and researchers can then use this information to institute control measures.