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Measuring and Modelling our forests

Measuring and modelling our forests

Sustainable Timber Tasmania models and monitors sustainable yield to ensure that what is being harvested from its forests is consistent with the long-term productive capacity of Tasmania’s Permanent Timber Production Zone land.

To estimate supply of wood products from the forest, we use inventory, future growth estimates and historical harvest records. Supply from both eucalypt native forest and eucalypt plantation is considered in this calculation.

In 2015, Sustainable Timber Tasmania completed a major project using state of the art LiDAR technology to digitally map and improve understanding of all of the forests and land under its management.

Using aircraft specially fitted with Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) equipment (sometimes referred to as laser scanning) Sustainable Timber Tasmania has now captured digital, three dimensional information on all of the Permanent Timber Production Zone forests to provide highly accurate mapping data with multiple potential uses. Not only does it capture very accurate information on the forests, but it also shows the land surface that lies beneath - basically it allows you to see through the trees in a way that was impossible with aerial photography or ground-based approaches.

LiDAR provides simple, accurate information on forest height and density. It makes planning much more accurate and cost effective as it can be determined which coupes will deliver the best wood, whether a coupe is ready for harvest, as well as operational applications such as where best to build roads into the forests and where to avoid. For example, LiDAR indicates features such as unstable land formations or sinkholes, which were usually only not visible on aerial photographs and in the past were identified in late stages of planning.

In addition, LiDAR provides a detailed picture of features in the landscape such as streams which has proven to be a marked improvement from topographical maps. This in turn allows better planning of our operations, further reducing the risk to forest soils and streams.

The information available from LIDAR was used to produce the 2014 Sustainable Yield Review No4 (in the tab below) that models future wood availability to ensure we provide for future generations.