Back to Projects

Client Overview

Leading Edge Geomatics (LEG) was contracted by a forest management company to offer valuable solutions for their project. The company has a concentration on sustainable management of forestland assets in the acquisition of lands with unique conservation values. The company’s primary focus of acquisition activities is on working timberlands.

Their forestry project requirements included;

  • Updated Stand Delineation
    • Feature class capturing visible differences in forest species composition, density, maturity, and harvest activity/condition. Required to be contiguous for the client provided area of interest (AOI) and topology error free.
  • Tree Crown Max Height Points
    • Point feature class representing individual tree crowns with dominant and co-dominant trees visible in the CHM captured.
  • Summary Statistics for Updated Stand Shapefiles
    • Included as fields in the updated stand shapefiles, summary fields include canopy closure percentages at client defined height breaks up to 90 ft, and height percentiles respectively generated using LAS and the tree crown max height point deliverable.
  • Unmapped Streams
    • Stream network shapefile capturing stream features not included in client and open-source data. Product included areas where unmapped streams are likely to be present (flow accumulation areas), along with an indication of expected stream flow.
  • Wet Area Mapping
    • Raster product indicating the likelihood that an area could be classed as “wet”.
  • Updated Transportation Network
    • Improving on existing road network shapefile, captures all visible road/trail type features with attribution describing the road class, width, and condition (rutting).

We used the following processes to offer our client with effective and accurate solutions;

  • Data Acquisition.
    • Initial data was provided directly by the client. Slivers/gaps in the data required supplemental deliveries of complete products for the entire AOI.
      • Client delivered products include: LAS (simple classification 1, 2, 7, & 18), Ortho imagery, CHM, DEM, and Slope rasters.
      • Supplemental spatial data was also provided including existing stand, road, stream, and wetland shapefiles, and the delivery AOI(s),
    • Additional data was collected by LEG to supplement client data for some product development. This was primarily open-source hydrology spatial data used in wet area mapping. Data sources were Open Street Map, and the USGS’s National Hydrography Network.
  • Product Development.
    • Stands
      • Hand delineated while referring to imagery and CHM to capture differences in forest condition. Topological rules enforced during delineation; errors corrected in QGIS.
    • Crown Points
      • Produced off normalized LAS and edited for over/under segmentation using internal process.
    • Unmapped Streams
      • Generated using Arc Hydrology tools (part of the spatial analyst extension) and the DEM.
    • WAM
      • Internal LEG process makes use of known hydrology, unmapped streams, and the DEM.
    • Transportation Network
      • Hand-delineated using the DEM and imagery, supplementary Local Dominance grid produced to improve ability to “see” forest roads and their condition under the canopy.

Finding and Solutions

This forestry project presented LEG with several opportunities to build on and improve existing methods. It also allowed LEG to evaluate new options for inclusion in our suite of forestry solutions. At project initialization we collaborated with the client through an iterative process to augment our established approach to stand delineation to create products tailored to their specific requirements. With interim client feedback we took the opportunity to improve on existing crown point generation methods, resulting in a product that reduces the over segmentation of large dominant and co-dominant trees in a mixed canopy. This was done without limiting the capture of most intermediate tree crowns. As part of this process a variety of forestry adjacent software and statistics packages were evaluated, including lidR, FUSION, and itcSegment. Findings were incorporated into our existing methods and several scripts have been developed for generating forestry summary statistics, including canopy closure and height percentiles. These scripts can be easily adjusted for future forestry projects, directly catering the generated statistics towards the client’s forest management needs. In developing a topologically sound stand dataset for this project the set of topology checking and handling tools available in QGIS have been evaluated and a solid method established for any future work. Processes for forest road delineation and the evaluation of road quality (i.e., rutting) were significantly improved during this project. Rather than relying solely on a DEM/hillshade and imagery to locate and evaluate forest roads, local dominance, a relief visualization method commonly used to locate archeological features was employed. We found that this visualization method made it significantly easier to see forest roads under the canopy and to evaluate their condition. Visualization improvements made it possible to accurately capture forest roads from main arterial routes down to individual trails taken by harvesting equipment during management activities.

Let's Work Together

Get in touch