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Precion Forestry: A New Approach

Alias Mohd Sood
Head of GIS Section Forestry Department of
Peninsular Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, malaysia
The need for precision forestry is no longer an avoidable option in managing forest and producing forest products. Driven by both the ever increasing scrutiny over protection of forest resources and the economic need to use forest products to the fullest, professional foresters now demand quality detailed information about forests they manage and products they produce. The term “precision forestry” may vary with foresters of different disciplines. To forest geneticist it may probably mean precisely matching the genetics of a tree species to the site to maximize growth. Whereas, to an industrial forester it might mean precisely managing a forest to match what a market needs. But, to a forest conservationist it probably means being able to precisely manage a forest to optimize environmental benefits (Dyck, 2003). Since precision forestry can be applied to various disciplines of forest, Taylor et al 2000 proposed the general field of precision forestry be separated into three main categories:

  • using geospatial-information to assist forest management and planning,
  • site-specific silvicultural operations, and
  • coordinated harvesting, product evaluation, and transportation systems.

Precision technology application started with Precision Agriculture upon availability of high spatial satellite imagery and Global Positioning System (GPS). Precision Agriculture has proved to be successful and in Malaysia it has been carried out in Kedah and Sabah for various crops’ precise management such as rice, oil palm and banana. According to Robert et al (1994), precision agriculture started with site-specific crop management concept which is IT based agricultural management system to identify, analyze, and manage site-soil spatial and temporal variability within fields for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment.

Precision Forestry follows similar concept but because of the difference in business nature it needs modification. To institutionalize the concept, a Precision Forestry Cooperative (PFC) was set-up at the Washington University to develop tools and processes that increase the precision of forest data to support better decisions about forests, their services and products, through a collaborative effort with private landowners, public agencies, manufacturers and harvesters.