Operational use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is beginning to be more commonplace in the natural resources sector; however, their use in forestry is still in the early stages. With flexible and simple deployment, UAVs can be used to give an “eye in the sky” perspective for various applications aimed to support real-time situational awareness. Post-flight processing and analysis of UAV-derived digital surface models (DSM) also have potential to provide slope information for areas where high-resolution terrain models, e.g., LiDAR data, are not available.
FPInnovations conducted two trials in 2016 to assess the use of a low-cost off-the-shelf UAV to identify hazards and risks in steep slope environments, and to investigate the potential of UAV-derived DSM to obtain slope information to support site-specific planning. Past studies show that low-cost UAVs have demonstrated the ability to assist with visual reconnaissance of forest operations such as supplementing safety audits and identifying hazards. Also, accurate terrain data in steep slope environments is essential for efficient deployment of logging operations; the use of low-cost UAVs to indirectly provide slope information offers an interesting potential in some cases. An Info Note is now available to FPInnovations’ members presenting the key observations from these two trials.
For more information, please contact Olivier Tsui, scientist in FPInnovations’ remote sensing group.