Seeing the Forest and the Trees

  1. Ireland-based, Treemetrics has developed patent pending software for estimating tree volume from laser scans.
  2. This can lead to significant improvement in forest management.
  3. Currently the plan is for the data processing to be done by Treemetrics.

Irish foresters – you don’t usually see this profession in Ireland, but according to Enda Keane, chief executive of Cork-based TreeMetrics they are becoming known around the world for their ability to measure the volume and quality of timber in a forest. His firm has developed a new technology to literally “see the wood from the trees”. It’s a laser-based system that scans the trees, then with Treemetrics’ patent pending software analyzes the data to simulate and optimize how best to use the forest resources, tree by tree.

Basically TreeMetrics has found that by obtaining one scan per hectare their software is capable of accurately predicting the stand volume. Enda notes that, “globally on average 20 per cent of the value of the forest is lost at harvest time around the world. They lose that value by producing waste and loss through bad decisions. It goes back to the old adage that if you don’t measure properly you don’t manage properly.”

The current business model is for clients to do the scanning and then send the data to Treemetrics to do the data processing. I am not sure that this is a viable long term model, but time will tell.

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4 Responses to Seeing the Forest and the Trees

  1. Chad says:

    One scan per 2.5 wooded acres doesn’t seem like very much data.. especially with leaf-on conditions. I guess they’re just computing a ratio from the sampled trees and applying that to each hectare.

  2. The work we are doing is primarily in even aged coniferous plantations. Therefore the crops are more uniform. However where there is variation the operative will collect an additional scan. Each scan takes 3.5 minutes so it easy to collect more data if needs be. The other factor is that the forest compartment sizes are generally between 3Ha to 8Ha. Studies have shown that we currently provide a volume accuracy of 1.7% on a stem by stem level compared to a callibrated harvesting machine. Regarding semi-natural coniferous forests we have collected a large amount of scanning data in Norway and the Norwegian Research Authority are working on an ideal sampling intensity for their forests.
    I hope this helps and many thanks for your interest. We are more than happy to go through a web demo to further explain the system.

  3. I forgot to mention that the main reason that we use terrestrial lidar is to better quantify the quality within the forest and we like to describe our system as providing a “Catalogued Warehouse” of log products.
    That’s it from snowy Ireland!!!

  4. steven ramsey says:

    I have seen this software and worked with Enda and it is amazing the results that can be achieved, The software stripes the leaves of the trees and calculates very accuratly the stem information. When working in large forests the skill of the data capture is to move through the forest with an understanding of how forest change over distance. to look at the average. I hope Enda doesn’t mind me saying but when using multiple (3 scans) and cloud registering the data, to minimize the equipment carried the accuracy and speed of data processing went up even higher. The forestry industry is worth billions and with a current loss of 20% of the value we are talking big numbers, this is an industry worth keeping an eye on.

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