Arauco reaps LiDAR and ortho imagery benefits

Arauco reaps LiDAR and ortho imagery benefits

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Denver, USA, September 12, 2007: The use of LIDAR in forestry applications has been relatively slow to develop operationally. However, increasingly forest products companies are finding that high-accuracy, high-density aerial LIDAR data combined with multispectral, ortho imagery is particularly suitable for forest inventory and monitoring, harvesting forecasts and timber growth as well as optimization of transportation routes.

Forestal Arauco S.A. is the world’s second largest cellulose producer and one of the largest forestry enterprises in Latin America in terms of surface area and yield of its plantations. In February 2006, Arauco contracted Digimapas Chile Aerofotogrametria Ltda. (DMCL), Santiago, Chile, to acquire, process and map 7,500,000 hectares (almost 30,000 square miles) of aerial LIDAR and ortho photo data of forested areas in Chile.

Dr. Markus Rombach, Director of Digimapas Chile said “We started the operational mapping in November 2006 and can reach a monthly production of approximately. 450,000 hectares (about 1800 sq. mi.). So far we have mapped approx. 2.5 million hectares of a total of 7.5 million hectares to be delivered to Arauco during the next year.”

“They are using our data for updating their general forest inventory. Special applications area such as erosion prevention, forest quality supervision, road planning for tree extraction, infrastructural planning for new plants and transport roads, strategic information for investments in new properties and much more” added Dr. Rombach.

Digimapas is using the Harrier 56/G3 aerial LIDAR/Imaging system from TopoSys GmbH, Biberach, Germany. The Harrier 56/G3 with integrated digital mapping camera can generate precise, elevation and multispectral image data simultaneously in one flight. In addition to the standard products of the Harrier 56, several application-oriented data products such as canopy models, multiple echo difference models and volumes are easily generated.

The following stand- and tree-related parameters can be extracted directly from the LIDAR and image data as well:

  • Height of single trees and forest stands
  • Segmentation of single trees and crown diameter
  • Number of trees and density of stand
  • 3D coordinates of tree tops
  • Classification of deciduous trees and conifers
  • Diameter at breast height
  • Timber volume and growth

    As natural resources become increasingly valuable, not only economically, but socially and environmentally, the stewards of these precious resources will demand the best information available to ensure the economic, environmental and societal benefits into the future. LIDAR and digital ortho imagery will go a long way to providing this necessary information.