Stone, C, Turner, R, Verbesselt, J (2008). Integrating plantation health surveillance and wood resource inventory systems using remote sensing. AUSTRALIAN FORESTRY, 71(3), 245-253.
Commercial softwood growers in Australia are keen to improve the efficiency and precision of resource inventory underpinning their timber supply commitments. At the same time, they also need to implement forest health strategies which contribute to their environmental management systems and certification process. For example, the Australian Forestry Standard requires forest managers to identify, assess and prioritise any potential damage agents that may impact on forest ecosystem health and vitality. These health programs, however, are often run parallel with, and independently of, resource inventory programs. While most large growers maintain a health Surveillance program, their capacity to quantify the impact of damaging agents on stand productivity and wood volume is often limited. Quantification of productivity losses due to biotic and abiotic agents would significantly improve decisions associated with resource scheduling and allocation of resources for pest control and stand amelioration. This paper discusses how remote sensing technologies can provide spatially-explicit data that permit the integration of plantation inventory and health assessments. The emerging diversity of sensor capabilities on both satellite and airborne platforms enables the development of hierarchical monitoring programs that can be customised for individual regions. For example, the coarse-scale sensor MODIS can provide very cheap coverage Suitable for frequent temporal condition monitoring (thus identifying areas requiring more detailed attention in a timely manner), whereas the new generation of high-resolution sensors are facilitating a shift from manually mapped stand polygons (e.g. those from aerial sketchmapping and aerial photographic interpretation - API) to pixel and object-based digital analysis techniques suitable for both crown and stand-level inventory and canopy health assessment on a continuous, broad-scale basis. The application of these new technologies and associated spatial analyses permits the integration of plantation inventory and health assessment, thus providing forest managers with a holistic and cost-effective approach to timber production.