Forest Investment Account

Abstract of FII Project R04-094

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Airborne LiDAR as a powerful new technology for operational forest inventories and sustainable forest management

Author(s): Niemann, Olaf (University of Victoria)
Subject: Forestry, Inventory, Technology/GIS/Modeling/Remote Sensing
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program


Today, forest managers have the difficult responsibility of trying to balance the economics of timber production with the long-term protection of ecosystems and biodiversity. Forest companies and the province rely heavily on forest inventories to compile information on stand attributes, such as timber volume and quality, species composition, age, health, and ecology. Our proposed research will attempt to demonstrate how commercial LiDAR data can be used (1) as a reliable source of forest structure information to characterize and update selected forest attributes on a stand (polygon) and land-holding basis, and (2) to estimate other ecologically relevant variables that will expand the range of traditional forest inventory variables in support of sustainable forest management. We expect that commercial LiDAR technology could drastically reduce the time and cost of some aspects of forest inventories, while improving the accuracy and range of forest measurements made. The research described here represents the final technical phases of a project initially funded by Forest Renewal BC and Forestry Innovation Investment (FRBC PAR02009-04 and FII R02-24). Our project focuses specifically on the development of a new LiDAR remote sensing application that could substantially reduce the time and cost of forest inventories. LiDAR sensors are also capable of measuring the complex structure of forest canopies and the underlying terrain, and may therefore prove to be a valuable tool for monitoring the structure and health of ecosystems.

For further information, please contact Olaf Niemann, University of Victoria (

Updated September 08, 2005 

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