Since its purchase in the spring of 2019, our drone has been gaining popularity among our clients who would like to see their property from a bird’s eye view. In this time, we have conducted multiple flights and captured some scenic views of multiple privately-owned parcels. Currently, the services that we can provide using our drone includes still photos, videos, and high-resolution aerial imagery which can be mapped and georeferenced for interested clients. Although these are relatively simple tasks, the forestry-applicable use of drones continues to rapidly improve.
The capabilities of drones have rapidly expanded beyond simple photos, videos, and maps that our drone is capable of producing. In fact, a peer-reviewed article published at the same time as the purchase of our drone (linked below) describes how drones are now capable of calculating tree biomass by projecting high-resolution light detection and ranging (LiDAR) scans. When outfitted with these state-of-the-art LiDAR scanners, drones with enough lift can collect an immense amount of points on forested stands, which can then be used to calculate total forest volume. In fact, the amount of points per tree is so high-resolution that when they are mapped on a 3D graph, the results look more like a black and white picture than plotted points. Although this technology can be used to calculate volumes on a whole-stand basis, the amount of computing power required for such a task is beyond the means of most commercially-available computers. For this reason, the article suggests that this technology may be more useful for revising commonly used scaling formulas which have been proven to be biased toward trees with perfect form.
As is common with most technology, these advancements in drone capabilities will likely continue to improve in the future. We at Green Timber will continue to track these advancements and determine if we can incorporate them into our company in an effort to provide more services to our client base. Some of these advancements will not be economically-feasible for quite some time, but are definitely an exciting development in our industry!