Luke tested large-scale precision forest management in Russia with drones

Posted July 19, 2019

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) used BVLOS drones to carry out tree-wise forest inventory on an area of 18,000 hectares in North-West Russia.

Luke carried out research project “Competitive solution based on Finnish knowledge for management of up- to-date forest resource data in Russia (ISKRA)” to develop a cost-efficient solution for collecting information. “Beyond Visual Line of Sight” (BVLOS) drones were used to cover an area of 18,000 hectares in four days.

During the ISKRA project, the tree-wise forest inventory was carried out on an 18,000-hectare area leased by the participating pilot company in the Republic of Karelia. A total of 13,652,458 trees were mapped using drone data and data processing algorithms developed for the project. Each tree’s height, breast height diameter, species and age were measured.

In order to fulfill the local Russian forest inventory standard (lesoustroitelnaya instrukciya, 2018), the tree-wise information was aggregated and delineated into 3,067 stands, each with its own attributes. It was noted that this local standard requires a large average stand size, causing a significant loss of value of tree-wise information for practical forest management.

The project demonstrates a huge potential of drones for smart forest management not only in Russia but also in Finland. The drones could be applied to forest inventory, as well as to improving forest operations, including the assessment of the need for thinning young stands, the evaluation of the quality of forest regeneration, and the assessment of the state of planted young seedlings, as well as the evaluation of annual growth performance for every single tree, stem quality, seedling delivery to planting locations, and seed spraying.

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