The results suggest that mobile platforms have great potential for monitoring a wide variety of forest attributes

With the advancement of lidar (light detection and ranging) technology, forest ecology and restoration researchers have used these tools in a variety of applications.

“We needed a record of the relative accuracy and errors between lidar platforms within a range of forest types and structural configurations,” said Associate Professor Andrew Sánchez Meador, executive director of the NAU’s Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI).

Sánchez Meador led a study recently published in Remote sensing, “Assessment of perspectives on the forest structure: How do airborne, terrestrial and mobile lidar-derived estimates compare?” MLS) to see how these tools could be used to provide detailed information on forest structure and composition. Researchers, including postdoctoral fellow Jonathon Donager and PhD student Ryan Blackburn, both from ERI and the NAU’s School of Forestry, found that MLS consistently provides accurate structural metrics and can provide accurate estimates of canopy cover and landscape metrics.

“Our results suggest that MLS has great potential for monitoring a wide variety of forest attributes,” said Sánchez Meador. “Such scanners cost a fraction of the other platforms, work equally well indoors and outdoors, are easy to use and view the forest like humans – from below between the trees – which facilitates the communication of research results.”

“As technology advances and prices continue to fall,” he said, “we expect more researchers and managers to use these tools for all kinds of applications, from monitoring the effects of disruptive events like fire and floods to quantifying vital ones Events Habitat of wild animals up to the provision of basic data for virtual reality applications and simulation modeling. “

As a result of this work, Sánchez Meador and David Huffman, ERI Director of Research and Development, secured funding for the Phoenix-based Salt River Project (SRP) to study MLS’s ability to quickly assess and assess forest structure conditions in mixed coniferous forests Amount and distribution of coarse wood debris, an important part of forest ecosystems.

This research was made possible by funding from the NAU’s Research Equipment Acquisition Program (REAP), which enabled ERI to acquire a handheld MLS device. This project shows how investments in technology and equipment under the REAP program can be used to support broader, more diverse research objectives and to foster partnerships with companies such as SRP.

As Executive Director of ERI, Sánchez Meador works to increase the institute’s focus on restoring western forest landscapes using innovative technologies, serving Indian tribes, promoting novel solutions for the use of tree biomass and wood products, and actively collaborating with the people and communities who Have influence, promote land management and are dependent on these forests.


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