The list of uses for drone technology appears to be growing almost daily. We’ve already taken a look at how UAVs are being employed to improve operations in mining, agriculture and construction, but of late they’ve also received a lot of attention in the forestry sector. Why? Because like in other industries, drones have proven to be particularly beneficial when it comes to reducing costs and improving the accuracy of assessments and surveys in the tree management industry, too.
Here are just three of the many ways drones are currently being used on a large scale in forestry operations.
THREE IMPORTANT FORESTRY APPLICATIONS FOR DRONE TECHNOLOGY
1. PLANTATION PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT
Owing to a drone’s ability to capture high-definition imagery of large tracts of land, UAV technology can easily be used to assess an area prior to planting and return information on factors like property size, boundary location, wood species and angles of slopes. This data can then be used to generate effective action plans. Similarly, drones also make the job of managing large plantations much simpler – they can be sent out to monitor tree height and volume, evaluate damage after a storm, assess the need for thinning and track growth and plant conditions over time. By doing critical assessments from the air, drones remove the need for humans to explore area on foot, which improves the safety of the workforce.
2. PLANT HEALTH ASSESSMENTS AND MANAGEMENT
To properly manage and care for forests, it’s critical that arborists and landowners pick up on pest infestations and disease outbreaks as soon as possible so they can be adequately treated and eradicated. Drone technology makes this much easier, too. UAVs equipped with multispectral cameras can be used to identify harmful bugs, disease and weeds in a very short timeframe. Armed with this information, forestry professionals can then plan appropriate interventions and save trees from major damage.
3. FOREST FIRE CONTROL
Wildfires pose a significant threat to forests, and if they’re not suppressed quickly, can wipe out hundreds of acres of vegetation within a matter of hours. While it’s difficult to prevent a fire in the first place, drones fitted with thermal cameras can be deployed within minutes to help firefighters identify the source of a blaze and to patrol the perimeter of a burn. As drone thermography can pick up heat signals that are not visible to the naked eye, it’s invaluable in assisting with the detection of hotspots that remain after a fire has been suppressed and that could easily flare up again. On a related note, drones can also be used to gather information about locations where power lines and trees are too close together, resulting in a potential fire hazard.