December 15, 2017

Working With LiDAR

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This week Brad teaches us a little about using LiDAR to map the forest resource so we can have a better understanding of timber volumes, elevation and terrain of the land, and percentage of hardwood and softwood in various areas. This information helps us improve the planning process for future cut blocks. 

Brad Constantine was selected as one of Greenest Workforce Green Dream bloggers during the summer of 2017. Brad shared some great insight into what it's like to work in the forest industry. We'll be re-sharing Brad's summer of blogs over the next several weeks so you can share in his adventure and more about the great opportunities that await you in the forest industry. For more information on the Greenest Workforce visit: http://thegreenestworkforce.ca/index.php/en/home/

By Brad Constantine on July 17, 2017

It is safe to say when you go out in the bush to do work, you never what you are going to expect. Especially when your working on the Crown Agricultural lands outside Meadow Lake. Within 400m of walking from the truck, I managed to pass through a cut block, into a swamp containing mixed softwoods of spruce, pine, and tamarack, to an old growth stand with dominant Balsam Poplar and Trembling Aspen with an excessive understory of Green Alder.

After making an exciting 1.5 km trip, we arrived at the plot. When collecting data for LiDAR technology, we begin by using a Trimble GPS to find the plot center using coordinates. Then we allow the GPS “cook” by letting it acquire 500 points to confirm its position with the satellites. At the same time, we use a poly tape to layout a 11.28m circular plot, followed by a 5.64m plot inside the bigger plot. Next, we use our compass to find north in the plot and spray an arrow on the ground with logging paint. From there, you begin to start taking DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) and the heights of each tree over 10cm in diameter. To take these, we use a diameter tape, and laser hypsometer to take heights. After you measure the tree, you spray a number on the tree for reference as to how many trees are in the plot. When we finish obtaining the measurements, a representative tree of each species has a bore sample taken for the lab. We also have to take a tally of how many small trees are growing up in the understory and pictures of the plot area for Forest Service the to define vegetation in the area. After that, we pack up and head for the truck.

On the way back, we thought it would be smart to take a shorter route because we found a cut line nearby our plot, the line looked ok for the first 200m, then it turned to pure muskeg swamp and blown down jack pine. Our trek turned into a game of hopscotch as Jesse and I hopped from tree to tree across the muskeg. Every now and then you would sink knee deep in the black mud beneath the moss. With dry ground in site and already being soaked from the swamp, we decided to tread waist-deep through the rest of it as we held the GPS and the rest of our gear above our heads to avoid getting them wet. I have never in my life been so excited to see dry ground. It was such an adrenaline rush.

Although collecting data for LiDAR is tedious and sometimes the walks to the plots are not the greatest, I feel that the work I am doing is contributing to something revolutionary in the forestry industry. Having LiDAR available and calibrated provides a very in-depth and broad span of data that will help the planners with future blocks to cut. LiDAR provides information on timber volumes, elevation and terrain of the land, and percentage of hardwood and softwood in the area. In conjunction with aerial footage, it simplifies as to what is exactly on the ground for timber.