Forestry

Drone Applications in Forestry

At Strategic, we focus much of our work in the forestry sector and are considered a leader in this space. Timber evaluation, surveying, cruising and silviculture are among the areas that we operate, and we have incorporated drones into many of these workflows. 

One of our main goals with drone integration is to improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce costs for our clients.  Over the years we have learned a lot about the best applications for drones in forestry.  A list of some of our key workflows are described below.

RPAS photo taken for high level reconnaissance of a wetland to assist with a survey in a hard-to-reach area.

Successful Drone Workflows

The following forestry applications have been improved through the use of drones, which we have proven to our clients:

  • Road as-built QA/QC – our drones allow for accurate measurement and inspection of roads during/following construction, including cut and fill slopes. 
  • Visual Impact Assessments (VIAs) – drones have become a useful tool for VIA photos that are required in areas that traditionally require a boat to access, or require a long hike.
  • Free growing survey support – the use of drones for free growing surveys has become an established support tool.  This can save time, provide a unique perspective and provide field photos.
  • Small scale salvage reconnaissance – difficult terrain that used to take days to recce, now takes hours with our drones.  This allows for valuable cedar salvage pockets to be identified (for example) without extensive hiking or helicopter time.
  • Canopy height updates – the ability to generate a point cloud with top-of-canopy heights from photogrammetry. This assists with forest and vegetation management, especially in between years of LiDAR capture. 
  • Forest health mapping – early detection and quantification of problem areas within a stand (with multispectral data), which in many cases can lead to positive outcomes and cost savings.
  • Waste and Residue surveys – automated pile counts and volume calculations are now possible and can add efficiency to W&R surveys in BC. 
  • Forest inventories and timber typing – high resolution RPAS imagery combined with classification techniques improves forest inventory workflows and saves time on the ground for our crews. 

Following our drone flights, canopy heights can be extracted during  imagery processing (point cloud data).  This output can be used to gauge tree heights and guide forest/vegetation management.

This orthophoto mosaic is made up of hundreds of individual photos that was compiled after multiple RPAS flights. The imagery layer can now be measured and manipulated for more insights.

How Can Drones Help Your Operations?

Whether you already have a team of drone operators, or your company is seeking out drone services – let’s chat about how you can make the most out of aerial data capture.   Call Mike at Strategic to chat further at 250-287-2246 (Ext 278), or reach us by email at uav@snrc.ca.


RPAS imagery stitched together from a mapping mission on northern Vancouver Island.

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