About Precision Forestry

Using high technology sensing and analytical tools to support site-specific economic, environmental, and sustainable decision making for the forestry sector

As Washingtonians we have a great respect and concern for the forests of our state. We want our forests to provide us with wood products to use, a place to work, and water to drink, without compromising on recreational opportunities, aesthetic beauty, and wildlife habitat.

The ever increasing scrutiny of public resource protection, as well as regulations such as those that resulted from the Forest & Fish Report, have created a need for a new level of detailed information. The economic need to use forest products to the fullest has also raised the importance of quality detailed information about the products and their manufacturer.

Refining Forestry and Manufacturing Processes

Information

Quality information about forests and the manufacturing of forest products helps maximize economic return while meeting environmental regulations.

Precision Forestry believes that there is value in collecting, analyzing, and storing detailed forest data. New rules to govern commercial timber land in Washington State were put into place as a result of the Forest & Fish Report. These rules require much more intensive, precise, and documented information about forest resources and landscape attributes.

Examples

Harvesting: When harvesting near a riparian area, the size, species, and number of trees need to be known to create a buffer area. This information is used in a mathematical formula to determine the species and number of trees that can be harvested.

Road Maintenance: To help prevent sediment from the ditchline of a road from entering a steam, a ditch relief culvert must be placed near each stream crossing to carry ditch water under the road where this sediment can disperse onto the forest floor.

Tools

Precision Forestry provides the tools to make good decisions. These tools gather data about trees, animals, water, and soil in the forest to a higher level of resolution than previously possible. This supports the development of more detailed plans for forest land management. At the operational level, high resolution plans can be implemented and reviewed on the ground. The results can be compared to traditional operational planning to verify that at least the same level of detail is met. Basically, is the new technology at least as good as the old technology. This creates a complete loop in the process, and make it possible to document changes in operations, learn from the outcomes, and continue to improve the process.

Measurement and Monitoring Tools

  • LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) and IFSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) can be used to study forest canopy characteristics, and to develop highly accurate digital elevation models, which are useful in determining stream channel initiation points, topography under forest canopy, etc.
  • GPS (Global Positioning System) and Inertial Navigation Systems. Used for navigation under forest canopies for purposes like electronically mapping and marking riparian trees.
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags on trees

Decision Making Tools

  • Spatial Optimization
  • Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis
  • Auction and Game Theory

Processes

These tools make possible highly repeatable measurements, actions, and processes to initiate, cultivate, and harvest trees, as well as enhance riparian zones, wildlife habitat, and other environmental resources. They link valuable information between resource managers and processors.

Opportunities

  • Meeting society's growing demands for wood and fiber products
  • Improving productivity
  • Analyzing the best use of raw materials in forest products manufacturing
  • Establishing inventory chain of custody controls for forest product certification
  • Providing more and better jobs, mostly in rural areas
  • Enhancing the long-term sustainability of companies
  • Meeting the challenge of environmental stewardship
  • Enabling better management of riparian areas
  • Reducing negative environmental consequences of forestry
  • Increasing profits

Results

Precision Forestry makes possible detailed forest engineering, management, and habitat plans implemented accurately and subject to rigorous review.