Updating of a forest database

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Context and objectives

Natural resources in general and forest ecosystems in particular have been affected by polluted exhausts and waste water from industrialisation. Air pollution, acid rain, fire and deforestation by man are only some of the biotic and abiotic alterations resulting in general forest decline. The problem is rather pronounced in the East-European countries, burdened with outdated heavy industries.

Since the eighties extensive research in forest change detection and monitoring over time has been performed, from a conservation perspective as well as from an economic perspective. For more than 20 years, Poland has put considerable effort into mapping and monitoring the (damage of) spruce and pine stands using aerial photography.

A joint Polish-Belgian pilot study took place in this context, with the following objectives :
(1) development of an operational dynamic forest database in a GIS environment based on existing data, and
(2) monitoring of forest stocks (including damages due to fire and storm) and updating of the database using remote sensing techniques.

Project outcome

Expected scientific results

Operational relational geographic forest database.
Methodologies for a cost effective updating of an existing forest database and for monitoring of forest stands.

Satellite imagery can be used for updating certain layers of the geographic database, such as the location of cut forest stocks, storm damage, recently planted stocks, infrastructure and burnt areas. For spruce stocks, a reliable statistical relation has been determined between the spectral values of satellite images and the needle condition and damage class of the trees, originating from pollution. The updating of the forest inventory data however (volume, height, diameter) requires additional information (e.g. from growth models), combined or not with high resolution satellite data. Possible problems in connection with the updating of the database are related to the structure and the desired precision of the geographical database.

The integration of the existing forest data in a relational GIS databank broadens the field of application of the existing data. Examples in the domain of sustainable forest management and forest monitoring are : modelling of reforestation, priority intervention planning, simulation of the impact (economic and ecological) of certain management practices, generation of reports and statistics on lost wood volume and affected tree species,
Project leader(s): UGent - Department of 3D Data Acquisition
Location: Region:
  • Poland