Perhaps the greatest change in forest practices has been using technology to harvest without disturbing
a forest’s biodiversity. The use of LiDAR, aircraft and drones is the way of the future.
LiDAR is light detection and ranging technology that uses lasers to measure distances. In forestry,
aircraft-based LiDAR is used for extremely accurate, detailed, 3D measurements of the ground and
vegetation. LiDAR can provide accurate data on forest characteristics such as canopy, stand structure,
growth estimates, habitat and biomass. The use of LiDAR is increasing. This technology replaces
expensive and time-consuming ground survey mapping, and in some remote areas is much more
accurate than the ground crew can be.
TOP LEFT: This photograph illustrates LiDAR imaging.
LEFT: Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft have been used for management, surveying and photography
for many years. Forestry management recognises the importance of using the most appropriate
technology to deliver the best outcomes for the forest. Today Forestry Corporation contracts in air
services when required rather than maintaining its own fleet of aircraft.
RIGHT: Drones are the forester’s newest tool, as they allow for close-range and delicate photography and
surveying. While still in the trial phase, drones have already been successfully tested.
The biggest changes in the forests of NSW is in how staff work – moving away from manual labour
to highly specialised teams using intelligent and safe equipment has transformed the industry.