Industry investment in research reaps results

Recent successes in the Voluntary Matching program have included diverse projects such as: koala location research using drones, an analysis of cross-laminated timber acoustic performance and a pilot study using radiata pine plantations.

FWPA’s activity on behalf of our members continues to diversify as we develop strategic partnerships that will improve the efficiency and productivity of the industry.

We have successfully gained access to millions of dollars of additional funding under the federal government’s Voluntary Matching program.

Under this program, the federal government matches industry’s voluntary investment in research dollar for dollar up to a pre-determined cap — currently around $3.3 million per year.

In one project, koala location trials were conducted using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and FLIR infrared equipment. FWPA contracted data services company Kingfisher to conduct the trials in western Victoria.

Five trials using various settings, heights and image overlays were conducted over several months in the Bessiebelle forest area.

The data was then sent to the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) for processing and the development of an algorithm that would allow computer identification of koala locations.

This data could provide geo-reference (ie X and Y) coordinates to forest operators in real time so they could avoid koalas during harvesting.

During the trials, several settings and processes were developed that enabled koalas to be successfully located and the system demonstrated.

The trial showed that infield operations could be conducted by two personnel and each flight would take less than eight minutes to cover around 1 hectare.

As well as providing a cost-effective solution to koala identification prior to harvesting, this method has potential to improve personnel safety and animal welfare.

The findings report is available on the FWPA website.