It might sound like the latest mad-cap plot from Dr Evil, but this prototype Drone research is experimenting with ways to improve the quantity and quality of our forests - not just in the UK, but around the world….
Aberystwyth University is currently experimenting with drone mounted high definition laser systems to measure timber volumes, forest biomass and the carbon content of British forests. The system is being used to assist with a forest management approach called “Continuous Cover Forestry” which seeks to increase the ecological diversity of UK forests.
It mirrors efforts in other countries to increase forest coverage by using state of the art Drone technology.
For example, Costa Rica has substantially reversed its deforestation rates until the area of the country covered in forest has risen from just a quarter in 1983, to more than half in 2010. A new project in Costa Rica called Deep Forest is experimenting with prototype Drones which are being modified to carry lasers to scan the forest canopy.
Up until now, monitoring and scanning of remote areas of forest in many countries has been done by hiring expensive and manned aircraft carrying high definition Light Detection and Ranging lasers (LiDAR HD). LiDAR HD is a type of laser scanning which uses pulsed laser to create an extremely accurate 3D map of an area and can even “see through” the canopy down to the forest floor.
By modifying drones to carry LiDAR lasers, high precision ecological data can be gathered at a drastically reduced cost, thus allowing countries to monitor their forests more frequently and accurately.
If successful, the work being done in Costa Rica and in the UK will help protect our forests both locally and around the globe - thus benefiting us
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