For decades, the easiest way to manage a forest tree-by-tree has been to simply take a walk through it with a can of spray paint, designating which trees need to come down. While there’s definitely nothing wrong with this old-school approach, The Nature Conservancy is cooking up some new high-tech forestry management tools that make the process a whole lot faster and more accurate. They’re testing their Digital Restoration Guide in Northern Arizona, where a million acres of ponderosa pine forest have burned in catastrophic wildfires over the last fifteen years.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Neil Chapman of The Nature Conservancy explains how digital tools can make it easier for timber managers, conservationists, park services and fire control to keep forests alive and thriving. Workers will still walk (or ride ATVs) around in the forests to get an in-person, up-close look at the trees, but instead of using spray paint, they’ll have a tablet in hand, noting the tree locations with GPS coordinates. The data can be adjusted, archived and sent to harvesters – resulting in a lot less paperwork and other labor on the back end.
This could be especially useful for larger forests, where you might need to keep track of hundreds of thousands of trees every year. In-cab GPS helps wood harvesters make sure they’re using the right treatment in the right location, and track the date, time and location of a tree cut to manage project contracts. In the future, bar codes could be used to follow trees from cut to wood product manufacturing.
It’s a pretty interesting advancement in tech for the industry, and it’ll be cool to see how it develops. Read more details at TechCrunch.