Industry gears up for ForestTECH conferences in Aus and New Zealand

This November, the Australian and New Zealand forestry communities will descend on ForestTECH 2019, for one of the most significant dates in the industry’s annual calendar.

Hosted for forest resource managers, planners and inventory foresters by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA), the event has been running since 2007, with a unique focus on technology in the forestry industry.

ForestTECH 2019 will provide local forestry companies with a timely and independent overview of recent advances, both in research and in the operational use of new technology, as well as the ways data is being utilised to help the industry better measure, analyse, report and act.

Key themes for this year’s event include:

  • storage, processing and management of "big data"
  • the practical application of automation, robotics and sensors by forest managers;
  • integrating virtual and augmented reality into forestry operations;
  • results and lessons from reconciling remote sensing data into the field;
  • satellite tools for mapping, planning and operations
  • new innovations in mobile forest apps and collection tools;
  • results from remote sensing research and in-forest trials;
  • workflow solutions for data collected from airborne and Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) systems;
  • new mapping and geographic information system (GIS) applications; and
  • changing skill sets required by today’s forest resource managers.

Research into remote sensing of plantation for resource assessment and inventory management will also be a strong area of focus, given the region’s world class credentials in this area.

According to ForestTECH, Australia and New Zealand are leading the way globally in using new platforms, sensor technologies and UAVs to acquire, analyse, process and utilise 3D dense point cloud data for a whole host of different purposes.

Compared to other parts of the wood supply chain, it is the sheer speed of change in this area that makes it stand out. While just two to three years ago UAVs were being looked at as a potential and more affordable tool for getting an eye in the sky for forestry operations, they are now being used for routinely for functions including acquiring inventory data, forest health surveys, tree survival counts, quality assurance, tree height measurements and threatened animal species management.

Due to heightened interest in this area, a half-day, pre-conference workshop, entitled Hyperspectral & Thermal Imagery (acquired by manned and unmanned aircraft and satellite systems) for Forestry Operations, has been added to the schedule for delegates.

The workshop will introduce and provide examples of hyperspectral and thermal imagery, exploring how it can contribute to precision forestry. Presenters with international and local expertise in remote sensing will participate in the consultative forum to identify priority objectives and applications for the forestry sector through the adoption of this rapidly developing technology.

The special workshop has been organised by Professor Pablo J. Zarco-Tejada, HyperSens team leader and University of Melbourne academic, and Dr Christine Stone, leader of the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s Forest Science team. Both experts will present during the event.

Topics covered will include available and future technology; pushing hyperspectral hardware and software from research towards operational deployment in the Australian forestry sector; hyperspectral imaging for forest health monitoring and nutrient assessment; and requirements for the calibration, correction and processing of imagery.

Dr Stone said a group discussion will take place as part of the workshop, to help confirm the industry’s R&D priorities with respect to the application of hyperspectral imaging.

“We are looking forward to getting so many experts and interested stakeholders together in one place to share ideas and discuss where this exciting technology could take our industry in the future,” said Dr Stone.

This year’s ForestTECH event will be attended by more than 250 representatives from the New Zealand and Australian forestry industries. It will take place from 13–14 November in Melbourne, Australia, and 19–20 November in Rotorua, New Zealand.

For more information visit the ForestTECH website.